The cultural mindset that ‘contraceptives cause barrenness’

As Rwanda joined the rest of the world to mark the International Population Day on Wednesday, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) sent out a warning against the country’s high population growth rate, which has increased to 2.8 per cent from 2.1 per cent last year.
The birth control pill is a contraceptive that women can access over the counter. Net photo.
The birth control pill is a contraceptive that women can access over the counter. Net photo.

As Rwanda joined the rest of the world to mark the International Population Day on Wednesday, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) sent out a warning against the country’s high population growth rate, which has increased to 2.8 per cent from 2.1 per cent last year.

The use of contraceptives was among other recommendations to control the rapidity at which children are being born, by preventing unwanted pregnancies.

The day was marked under the theme, “Universal Access to Reproductive Health Services”, a subject that many have perceived with mixed reactions.  Cultural perceptions and myths surround contraceptive use in several African societies especially linked to adverse side effects for example; alleged barrenness.

However, the unanswered question remains if it is a fact that women using or who frequently use contraceptives risk losing their fertility.

“I have not used contraceptives before, but I have on several occasions been told that one of its most dangerous side effects is barrenness,” says Sarah.

Several people like Sarah find it safer to abstain from using contraceptives unless they are educated otherwise.

Speaking to The New Times, Vensa Kanimba, a gynecologist working with University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK) dismissed the claims as false.

“It is not true and I want to assure you that in some developed countries, people start using contraceptives at a very early age, but there are no such reports that they cause barrenness,” Kanimba said.

“I have witnessed people use contraceptives and when they get to the right time of giving birth, they do,” he said.

However, Kanimba said that just like any other medical treatment, there might be some side effects but not everyone reacts the same way to contraceptives.  

Dr. Jeanne d`Arc Kabagema, a senior medical associate working with EngenderHealth, says that people can get side effects depending on their body reactions to a particular contraceptive they use.

“People just believe whatever they want, but the reality is that contraceptives have no dangerous effect on someone’s fertility,” Kabagema said.

The Government of Rwanda is now implementing a strong Family Planning programme according to Dr. Anicet Nzabanimpa, the Integration Coordinator of Family Planning and HIV at the Ministry of Health.

“We are considering setting up health posts near heath facilities which are not offering family planning methods or modern contraceptives,” Dr. Nzabanimpa said adding that, “among other causes of the high rate of population growth is the high fertility rate, cultural mindsets that encourage having many children as well as the influence of religion.”

 

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