As awareness for birth control is gradually increasing in Africa, women are beginning to learn about the best methods and accept the use of temporary family planning to space their childbirth.
Overpopulation has long been identified as a major impairment to Nigeria’s economic growth and inability to provide basic amenities that will make lives better for citizens. It has also partly been blamed for the country’s grim health indices, including high maternal and child deaths and HIV/AIDS prevalence.
The population of the nation is estimated to be over 200 million as of 2020, which is expected to double in less than 25 years if Nigerian women continue to reproduce at the present rate.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), among the 1.9 billion Women of the Reproductive Age group (15-49 years) worldwide in 2019, 1.1 billion need family planning. Of these, 842 million are using contraceptive methods, and 270 million have an unmet need for contraception
The Nigerian government had foreseen a population crisis almost a decade ago and identified Family Planning (FP) as a watershed to slow down the ever-increasing population and reduce the high maternal and child mortality rate.
- What is Family Planning?
- Temporary Family Planning Methods
- Emergency Contraceptives
- The Following Are Temporary Family Planning Methods Available In Nigeria:
- Intrauterine Device (IUD)
- The Shot
- The Vaginal Ring
- The Pill
- Fertility Awareness or Natural Family Planning
- Withdrawal or Pull-out Method
What is Family Planning?
Simply put, Family Planning is a program to regulate the number and spacing of children in a family through the practice of contraception or other methods of birth control. This helps individuals to determine the method of family planning to employ to achieve this regulation.
Family planning may involve the use of contraception and other techniques to control the timing of reproduction. Components of family planning usually include sexuality education, prevention, and management of sexually transmitted infections, pre-conception counseling and management, and infertility management.
Permanent birth control is an irreversible surgical procedure that makes a person who can produce sperm unable to cause pregnancy or a person who can ovulate unable to become pregnant.
While women can choose from bilateral tubal ligation in the hospital- having their fallopian tubes tied, or a tubal block in a health center, men may choose a vasectomy.
The focus of this article is temporary family planning methods in Nigeria.
Temporary Family Planning Methods
Birth control methods can be broadly classified into:
- Barrier methods that prevent sperm cells from reaching the egg
- Hormonal methods that prevent ovulation
- Hormonal methods that allow fertilization of the egg but prevent implantation of the fertilized egg inside the uterus (womb)
These methods have different mechanisms of action and effectiveness in preventing unintended pregnancy.
The effectiveness of methods is measured by the number of pregnancies per 100 women using the method per year.
Methods are classified by their effectiveness as commonly used into:
- Very effective: 0–0.9 pregnancies per 100 women
- Effective: 1-9 pregnancies per 100 women
- Moderately effective: 10-19 pregnancies per 100 women
- Less effective: 20 or more pregnancies per 100 women
The most accessible and popular methods of contraception in Nigeria are condoms and emergency contraception.
However, both of these have their drawbacks.
Condoms are barrier methods of birth control and prevent pregnancy 98% of the time. They also protect against STDs. They are used by placing over an erect penis to stop sperm from entering the vagina during ejaculation.
Insertive/female condoms are inserted into the vagina and prevent pregnancy 95% of the time.
Condoms are cheap, easy to manufacture, easy to distribute, and available globally, including in resource-poor settings, through numerous well-developed distribution channels.
However, for condoms to be effective, you have to use a new one correctly every single time sexual intercourse occurs.
Emergency contraception is a safe way to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex. It employs the hormonal method of family planning, with Postinor-2 being the most common brand in Nigeria. It is very unlikely that you will have any serious or long-term side effects after taking Postinor or any other approved brand of the emergency contraceptive pill.
However, it’s not safe to take the morning-after pill as many times as you may need to. It is also not the best way to prevent unintended pregnancies long-term as it is less effective and expensive compared to long-term contraception.
The Following Are Temporary Family Planning Methods Available In Nigeria:
Intrauterine Device (IUD)
This is a tiny t-shaped device that is placed inside the uterus by a healthcare provider to prevent pregnancy. Less than 1 out of 100 women will get pregnant each year if they use an IUD. It is available in non-hormonal (copper) and hormonal (plastic) options, and is one of the most effective forms of birth control
Depending on which type you choose, it can last anywhere between 3 to 10 years.
Non-hormonal and hormonal IUDs both work to prevent sperm from fertilizing an egg.
For this method, a small, thin rod about the size of a matchstick is placed under the skin in the upper arm by a health care provider to prevent pregnancy. The implant lasts for about 3 years and releases progestin into your body that prevents you from getting pregnant.
Less than 1 out of 100 women a year will become pregnant using the implant.
This is another temporary family planning method, in which an injection (Depo-Provera) is given by a medical professional in the arm or hip every 3 months.
It stops the ovaries from releasing eggs and thickens the cervical mucus, so it is difficult for sperm to enter the uterus.
The shot is a safe, convenient, and private birth control method that works well if you always get it on time.
The Vaginal Ring
The vaginal ring is a flexible ring that is inserted into the vagina each month for three weeks at a time that prevents pregnancy 99% of the time. It releases hormones that stop the ovaries from releasing eggs and also thickens the cervical mucus. This makes it difficult for fertilization to occur since the sperm can’t gain entrance into the uterus.
The patch is like a sticker, called a transdermal patch. It is a safe, simple, and affordable birth control method that you wear on the skin of your belly, upper arm, butt, or back, anywhere except the breasts. A new patch is put on every week for 3 weeks, and it releases hormones that effectively prevent pregnancy. Then you get a week off before you repeat the cycle.
Birth control pills are a kind of medicine with hormones that you take at the same time every day for maximum effectiveness to prevent pregnancy. It works by gradually releasing hormones (progestin-only or a combination of hormones), and stops the release of eggs from the ovaries. The pill is safe, affordable, and effective if you always take it on time, and is available in different brands based on your physician’s advice.
Fertility Awareness or Natural Family Planning
Natural family planning involves a woman tracking her monthly cycle from her period through ovulation to determine when she is most and least likely to get pregnant. When used correctly, this method prevents pregnancy 76% of the time. This method is not very effective and is therefore not advisable as there can be irregularities. It also requires careful attention to track one’s cycle.
Withdrawal or Pull-out Method
This works by pulling the penis out of the vagina just before ejaculation. It is the most unreliable of all the methods. Aside from the fact that one can get caught in the heat of the moment, it fails a lot of the time even when supposedly done correctly.
There is a wide range of reliable family planning methods to choose from. Visiting your family planning clinic or doctor would help you know which to choose based on your medical history and what would work best for you.