I have been involved in research on Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) a few times. Each time gets me amused. Each time I leave with a hangover. Each time leaves me feeling incomplete. As soon as my visit is done, my client wants their data back. But I always want to go back. I want to find out what happened to the ladies I interviewed. Most of the people who are on birth control are women. Unfortunately, I am just me. From experience, no one would give me the time of day. I need a badge. I need a big name behind me.
When I say sexual reproductive health I mean, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)), Birth control, Abortion, Sex after Delivery, Period pains, HIV & AIDS. Just about everything. Most of the research is centered on birth control methods and abortion. I have talked to groups of women, men and young people during field trips. The setting is mostly in the rural areas and I come back to Nairobi with a longing. How can I educate these people? One time I was talking to a friend and I mentioned my fears. I was trying to explain the advantages of birth control especially when one is already having sex but not ready to be a parent. As we talked, I discovered the number of stereotypes we live with.
I could not convince him that it was safer for a woman to use an IUCD (intra uterine contraceptive device) more than any other form of birth control. These are commonly known as coils. There are coils that can stay for 5 years or 10 years depending on your preference. A coil is a non-hormonal form of birth of control. It doesn’t change your menstruation cycle a lot. It may however have an effect in the first 3 months before your body gets used to it.
A coil is inserted in the uterus. It’s also known as a copper T. It works by killing the sperm cells and preventing them from fertilizing the ovum. The ovary is also very jealous, in case one is fertilized, it cannot implant in the uterus as there is an intruder. I have heard that some women using coils report that their partners complain of feeling the threads every time they are engaged in coitus. This might be a figment of their imaginations unless of course the partner is long. That said, it is not possible to feel the threads of a well placed coil. If it’s placed by a professional a coil is claimed to be the best form of birth control.
There is this very interesting woman who said she feels cold when on the pill. Not literally, she means she does not get excited or aroused whatsoever. Also she is forgetful because she has to take a pill every day without fail. They regulate a woman’s hormonal balance. If you are forgetful forget about this form of birth of birth control otherwise you will fill a football field before you know it. In the rural areas this one is not popular or at least around where I have been. They easily mirror me I would never remember or I would remember several hours later and this would backfire big time. Apart from the remembering bit they are also pretty accurate.
I asked her so why not use the Depo or an Implant? I can probe when I need information and probe I did. The Depo-Provera is an injectable form of birth control. It prevents pregnancy by preventing ovulation (the release of an egg by the ovaries). If your ovaries do not release an egg, you are unlikely to get pregnant. Depo-Provera also makes it difficult for an egg to be fertilized and makes it less likely that a fertilized egg will implant in the uterus. Its name sounds like a lover to me. An implant is a small flexible tube about 40mm long that’s inserted under the skin of your upper arm. It’s inserted by your doctor, and lasts for three years. The implant stops the release of an egg from the ovary by slowly releasing progesterone into your body. She told me she is afraid of getting fat as word from fellow women claims these hormonal contraceptives can make you add on the pounds.
Then came along another with six kids all under ten, one on the way and all had no shoes. I asked her what form of birth control she is on. She said none because her husband could here none of it. So I asked her if he uses a condom. Apparently her husband hates condoms because he claims he feels no sensation and they make him go limp. But does not want to give birth to more kids because she can not even handle the ones she already hads. After all we all know condoms are not 100% accurate. But if you ever need rubber to skid on there is Durex studded, Raha, Trust condom among others. They are better than nothing.
Some prefer to use the famous withdrawal method otherwise known as coitus interuptus. Yaani just before a guy ejaculates he pulls out of the honey pot. I think whoever uses this method is ready to have a baby. I have not been a man but he who promises their significant other that they will withdraw and actually goes ahead and fulfills his promise is headed to heaven on a speed jet.
There is also BTL (Bilateral tubal ligation). This one is done for free if you like but not to everyone. Talk to me nicely if you are done having babies, I’ll show you where. It is permanent as the fallopian tubes are severed and the ovaries and the uterus are disconnected. Yaani zinakatwa. You go for BTL if your brood is full. If you think the motherly instinct might bite you again don’t even think about walking this path.
Birth control is not just a woman’s affair. Men can take charge and have a vasectomy. This has no effect on his enjoyment. He will always have his orgasms and ejaculates. But this ensures that the wiggly sperms never get to the barrel in the first place.
There are many available options to birth control. You need to read widely and get advice from a professional on which methods suits you. You also need to monitor your cycle before you go on any form of birth control. You don’t want to go on birth control if you already are pregnant, beats the purpose.