A 2017 United Nations report predicts that Nigeria will be the third most populous nation in the world after China and India in 2050. Sola Abe, 26, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Lagos in Nigeria, talked to women about family planning.
Unfortunately, Nigeria does not have the capacity to cater for its growing population, and this has led to high rate of poverty, unemployment, environmental pollution, and depletion of resources, among others.
In recent years, there has been increased awareness about family planning as a major means of checking population growth in the country. But many Nigerian women still do not subscribe to it.
Family planning is the process that allows parents or couples to determine the number of children they want and when they want them by the spacing of pregnancies, which is achieved through the use of contraceptive methods.
“There is nothing anybody can tell me about family planning that will make me do it,” Patience Onyinke, a mother of four, said, shaking her head in disapproval.
Onyinke is a petty trader who lives in a one-room apartment, with a curtain dividing it into two – one space for ‘bedroom’ and the other for sitting.
She narrated the story of her sister-in-law who did family planning and almost bled to death. Onyinke, who was warned by her sister-in-law never to do family planning because “anything can happen,” said she had been using the calendar method her pastor taught her.
She said even though she was very scared that she could mistakenly get pregnant, it was safer than injecting something into her body.
“Everything is in God’s hands. Mistakes can happen but I prefer it. The only reason I’m scared of getting pregnant now is because I’m not happy with our standard of living,” she said.
The story of Onyinke portrays the views of the average Nigerian woman, whose knowledge about family planning revolves around what she has been told by family and friends.
“My sister-in-law was tested at the hospital before a method was prescribed to her but she almost died due to bleeding,” Onyinke said.
The women interested in family planning are not sure they would get the perfect method at the first trial because they have heard stories of family and friends who experienced some complications with contraceptives.
The World Health Organisation says that family planning helps women to take charge of their lives; prevents pregnancy-related health risks; reduces infant mortality, and prevents HIV/AIDS.
By delaying or spacing children, it also helps women pursue additional education and participate in public life and reduces adolescent pregnancies, among other things.
A 2015 United Nations report on worldwide contraceptive trends states that contraceptive use is 40 per cent lower in the least developed countries.
According to WHO, one of the reasons women who want to avoid pregnancy are not using modern contraceptive method is the fear or experience of side effects.
But Omolara Aluko, a family planning and contraception educator, explained that not all women experience side effects, depending on the body type.
According to her, the period where a woman usually complains about a side effect is when the body is adjusting itself to the introduction of the contraception.
Noting that one of the side effects of modern contraception is headache, she said headache could be stopped by taking some pain relief medicine.
Another side effect, according to Aluko, is menstrual change, which is manageable. Where the flow is heavy, a doctor should be consulted. She described heavy bleeding as a situation where one pad gets filled in an hour or two.
For women complaining about not seeing their periods, Aluko said some hormonal contraceptions inhibit ovulation.
Aluko advised women who complain of a weight gain of more than 3kg to check their lifestyle and diet.
She advised that a woman should see a doctor before adopting a family planning method, and not simply take on a method because a friend or a family member did the same. According to her, a doctor will help advise which method would be suitable for a woman, and demand a pregnancy test before starting contraceptives.
On the misconceptions Aluko clears up for women is that family planning does not cause infertility, contrary to the belief in some quarters.
“It is when the contraceptive is still in the system that it prevents pregnancy but when it is removed, a woman can get pregnant again,” Aluko said. “Family planning does not encourage promiscuity as it is believed by some men,” she added.
She also noted that it does not travel to other parts of the body, neither does it make a baby have defects.
About me: I work with Woman.ng, an online magazine for Nigerian women. My vision is to create media content that will inspire, educate and renew the mind of people. I am passionate about advocating for and empowering abused women.
I hope to be known as a woman that stands against gender based violence. I love to look good, have fun and make new friends. Above all, I love God and pray to become all he wants me to be.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/
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