Written by: Mutshidzi Kwinda
The use of contraceptives have long been a taboo topic in many communities. They first came under scrutiny in social, religious, and political aspects when they were first introduced in the 50s. It was viewed as a taboo, sinful, and an immoral act in the communities back in the 1950s and 1960s as contraception was a topic that no one wanted to hear or talk about.
It was only around 1969 when the pill was legalized for menstrual problems that there was a shift. But still the pill was only available for married women which caused a lot of issues for unmarried woman who wanted access to it. This was a suppression of yet another right for women- the right of freedom to sexual and reproductive health.
Amongst users, there were some raised concerns about side effects like headaches, blood clots, dizziness, and nausea which instigated more research. With more investigation over the years, it appeared that the dose of progestogen and estrogen in the pill was too high and hence the effects. This evidence led to lessened trust in the public. In 1974, an IUD was introduced and within 3 years, it was withdrawn from the market for infertility concerns. Another reason which dissuaded many people from using contraceptives.
It was in the 1990s when various new methods of contraception were introduced with lowered dose and fewer side effects that people started to open up to the idea of contraceptives. Now they are safer and there is more knowledge about the use of contraception, what to expect, and how to take them according to an individual’s wellbeing.
It is important to take note that if you are a woman who smokes and over 35 years, the risk of developing adverse effects from contraceptives is higher than non-smokers. Therefore, you must use contraception with extra caution.
Correcting some of the myths and misconceptions
- You don’t need parental consent to purchase contraception
- Birth control pills do not cause ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy that occurs in Fallopian tubes). They prevent it as much as they prevent overall pregnancy.
- Long-acting birth control pills, IUDs, patches, morning-after pills do not cause abortion. They work by preventing the release of an egg (ovulation) and by preventing fertilization (fusing of an egg and sperm). Which means there is no pregnancy at all. If maybe the woman is already pregnant, the contraception will not do anything to either the woman or the developing embryo.
- It is normal and expected to have Menstrual changes a few days after using the oral contraceptives.
Oral contraceptives do not cause acne, they help clear it (with time).
- IUDs do not cause pelvic inflammatory disease. They also do not travel through the pelvis into other organs like the heart. IUDs are one of the most effective methods of contraception to prevent pregnancy among others.
- Oral contraceptives, IUDs, and other methods do not cause infertility. Depending on which method of contraception, you can fall pregnant. Immediately or within a few months after discontinuing the use of contraceptives.
- A person does not get cancer from using the pill or IUD. Some methods prevent and lower the risk of gynecological cancer.
- IUDs do not get stuck in the uterus.
- Only Condoms prevent STIs if used correctly and consistently.
What are some myths that you have heard about contraceptives?