Youth who use contraceptives seen as promiscuous

A research has shown that a majority of people believe adolescents who use contraceptives are promiscuous. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH

A majority of people believe adolescents who use contraceptives are promiscuous, a survey has shown.

This, the researchers said, could fuel the lack of use and access to family planning among women of reproductive age.

The research, conducted by the International Centre for Reproductive Health Kenya, revealed that out of the 9,478 respondents interviewed, 53 per cent of individuals strongly believed adolescents on family planning were promiscuous.
Nearly half of the respondents had misconceptions about family planning.

The Performance Monitoring for Action report also showed that 57 per cent of the community believed adolescents who used contraceptives were promiscuous.

However, 47 per cent disagreed that adolescents on family planning were promiscuous, 23 per cent said a few and only 20 per cent indicated that some were promiscuous.

The survey interviewed women in 11 counties to establish why some were not using or accessing contraceptives.

Going by age, teenagers between the age of 15 and 19 considered their peers using contraceptives promiscuous at 52 per cent, followed by 25 to 49 years at 55 per cent while 20 to 24 were seen as the least promiscuous at 48 per cent.

“Teenage pregnancy in adolescents is high and myths and misconceptions are a contributing factor since they are considered promiscuous if they have contraceptives,” said Prof Peter Gichangi, the report’s principal investigator in Kenya.

When asked their thoughts about contraceptives and married people, 51 per cent of those aged 15 to 19 agreed it was for married people while 49 per cent disagreed. In the 20 t0 24 years age group, 42 per cent agreed, while among 25- to 49-year-olds, 46 per cent knew contraceptives were for married women.

Respondents in all age groups agreed that people who use contraceptives had a better life.


Going by the data, four in every 10 sexually active adolescents were using modern contraceptives and 38 per cent of the age group were sexually active.

The myths were found to be a hindrance to family planning gains since the country is still recoding a high number of unintended pregnancies at 44 per cent.

The percentage of unintended births in all women had increased from 36 per cent in 2014 to 44 per cent in 2019.

The data, collected between November and December 2019 from 9,478 females aged 15 to 4, revealed the number of unintended pregnancies was high in younger people between 15 and 19 years old at 82 per cent.

Prof Gichangi also noted that while almost 50 per cent of youth were sexually active, only about 11 per cent were using a family planning method.

The unintended pregnancies were also caused by commodity stock-outs in most public hospitals.

A review of the data revealed that out of the 784 public hospitals, 86 per cent of the facilities ordered for the implant, but did not receive shipment.

Additionally, 86 per cent did not receive injectables, 80 per cent did not receive pills, 66 per cent did not get IUDs. A total of 68 per cent of the facilities ordered for male condoms, but did not receive the shipment.

The implant was found to be the most preferred method of contraception among married people, with an increase from 20 per cent in 2014 to 41 per cent in 2019.

The male condom is the dominant method among unmarried adolescent contraceptive users at 33 per cent, followed by implants at 30 per cent and injectables at 20 per cent. “We have a problem, women are getting pregnant when they don’t want and this could lead to rising of abortion cases and complications during childbirth. We need to demystify the myths,” he said.

Dr Mukaindo Mwaniki, a consultant obstetrician/gynaecologist at Aga Khan University Hospital, said when it came to contraceptives many girls and women sought information from their social circles first, and the Internet, before consulting a health worker.

As a result, they were likely to pick up myths and misconceptions that can influence their uptake of contraceptives.


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