Is condom as contraceptive a burden to married people?

Condom is the most accessible contraceptive, both in terms of availability and cost. And in a world there health and social marketing agencies such as Society for Family Health (SFH) are operating with zeal, the widely tagged “smart choice” begins to look like an accessory of sort. They are the primary method of contraceptive.
Although condoms like Plaisir are readily available in the country, they seem not to be the preferred chouice of contraceptive among married people. Net photo.
Although condoms like Plaisir are readily available in the country, they seem not to be the preferred chouice of contraceptive among married people. Net photo.

Condom is the most accessible contraceptive, both in terms of availability and cost. And in a world there health and social marketing agencies such as Society for Family Health (SFH) are operating with zeal, the widely tagged “smart choice” begins to look like an accessory of sort. They are the primary method of contraceptive.

Unfortunately, it is never all glitter for condom as a contraceptive, especially among married persons. In marriage and family planning, condom tends to shift from a necessity to necessary burden.

This is because, among married couples, sex does not always run according to the script; many times it just happens. Married people seldom use condoms to guard against STIs and HIV infection, unless it is a case of discordance. For contraceptives in marital bedrooms, the condom tends to take a backseat to other forms such as pills, IUDs, Injectaplan, among others.

Mariam Niyotwagira, a mother to four, says for long, family planning was just a myth in their marriage

“We are not well-off financially as I am just a housewife and my husband a mason. We have always wanted to give our children the best but it’s impossible considering our incomes. So we thought family planning was the best option for us,” she said.

“My husband totally fell out with condoms, saying they don’t give sex it’s natural feel and so we opted for birth control pills.”

After using them for months and they seemed to work, they saw it as the best option not until they were suddenly shocked when she got pregnant with the third born.

Niyotwagira was later told that it’s because she didn’t follow the dosage and then the shop where she bought them from offered her some other pills that continuously gave her headaches and great loss of appetite.

“I really don’t know which of these works because my husband doesn’t want to use condoms but I fear to use these other pills because I am not sure of their side effects,” Niyotwagira said.

According to  Dr Jean Bosco Harelimana, of Family Health Dispensary, Remera in Kigali, side effects of prescribed birth control pills are minimal and rarely happen but usually people detest them because they are supposed to be taken daily.

“These pills are supposed to be taken daily and when someone gets a headache for some other reason, then it’s blamed on the pills but they don’t really have effect on women’s health as many people think,” he said.

 Dr Harelimana said pills are not supposed to be just bought without advise from a doctor, because it is better when one’s doctor tells them what pills to buy and how to properly take them including the time intervals for the dosage.

“The main reason people say they don’t work is because of the poor usage or skipping a dose by mistake or poor in take that causes the pills to be less effective,” he said. “When you miss a dose, go to your doctor for advice on how to get back on track with your family planning strategy.”

Condom in marriage

“No condoms with my wife” was the reaction from John Paul Nkurunziza, a father of five.

“The whole meaning of sex is distorted when you use condoms, the intimate bit of sex is lost and I really don’t feel like it’s needed,” he said.

Nkurunziza and his wife are doing family planning but condoms are out of the question as, in their perception, the latex gadgets seem not to be the convenient birth control method.

“Sex isn’t always planned to happen, sometimes it just happens and reaching out to the drawer to get a condom isn’t an option for any normal human. Considering the fact that it’s going to make the activity less interesting,” he said.

Nkurunziza also further added that he had noticed that his wife lost interest in sex when they started using condoms though it’s no doubt that condoms are safe and easy means of birth control.

Whereas some people have opted for certain means of birth control, others don’t want to hear of birth control and contraceptives at all.

In 1968, Pope Paul VI issued his landmark encyclical letter Humanae Vitae (Latin, “Human Life”), which re-emphasised the Church’s constant teaching that it is always intrinsically wrong to use contraception to prevent new human beings from coming into existence.

As many Catholics believe in this, so does Theresa Teddy Kalisa, a staunch a Catholic.

“I was a fan of  contraceptives until I got more depth in understanding my religion and my role as a Christian. Slowly, I started to feel the sincerity that we were meant to bear children, but then God completely wrecked me when I read on my own package of birth control pills and saw that it had three ways of keeping me from getting pregnant,” she said.

“We are meant to feel the world as God tells us in Genesis 1:28–And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth’” Kalisa said.

In March 2009, Bishop Manuel Clemente of Porto, Portugal, responing to Pope Benedict’s statement condemning the use of condoms to prevent the transmission of HIV, said the pope’s remarks, saying condoms are “not only recommended, they can be ethically obligatory.” 

He said “the great solution to the Aids problem, like any other problem, has to be behavioral,” but those living with HIV/Aids “have a moral obligation to prevent and not provoke the illness.” 

Bishop Clemente argued that pope’s advisors “should be more learned.”

How to avoid effects of contraceptives

All medicine have side effects, even the ones we think are so safe still have side effects, says  Jean de Dieu Turaturanye, a medical detailer at Society for Family Health, a social marketing organisation.

“The negative side effects come due to a person body reaction and this shouldn’t be a basis for not using contraceptives because even then, it rarely occurs,” he advised.

“The best way of knowing what contraceptives to us is through consultation with a medical specialist.”

“First, as a couple you meet a health specialist who explains all the methods of family planning, their effects and benefits, then he asked the couple personal questions on their health and other needs and finally discusses with the couple which mode of birth control is appropriate for the family,” he advised.

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