Covid-19 and unwanted pregnancies: Contraceptives

Contraceptives have been a topic that most people avoid despite medics speaking about them publicly. The risk of unwanted pregnancies in most homes is quite troubling as couples try the natural methods of contraception. We cannot deny the fact these methods may work for some people, but in most cases, they are not effective at all. In every society, there are people against contraceptives, and there are people who recognize the importance of contraceptives.

According to the last census, Kenya has managed to surpass the 58% mark of women on family planning.  With 61% of the women on the various contraceptive modes, the country is on its way to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies. 50% of persons between the age of 15 and 18 are sexually active, which raises the risk of early and unwanted pregnancies. In every 5 girls aged between the ages of 15 and 19, at least one of them is pregnant or has already given birth.  This data shows that the country is still at a critical stage of curbing the menace of early pregnancies. It also shows that there is a need for increased sexual education to our minors. The adults, too, need to be educated on the importance of protecting their children from early parenthood. Statistics show that 20828 minors are driven to parenthood while aged 10 to 14.

With the ongoing lock-down globally and especially in Kenya, very many women are likely to be affected, especially when contraceptives are put into perspective. It is expected that there will be 7 million unwanted pregnancies globally for every 6 months of lock-down. A number that is quite surprising and worrying. In the very same period, it is approximated that about 50 million women will lose access to contraceptives; hence the risk will grow significantly.  This is increased by the number of women who were previously not using the different methods of family planning now utilizing contraceptives to protect themselves against pregnancy. The occurrence of unwanted pregnancies is likely to bring about a high number of abortions and, subsequently, deaths.

What to adopt

With the lack of contraceptives, families need to think about other forms of contraceptives if they hope to avoid unwanted pregnancies, maybe the natural ways. Different natural methods can be used as contraceptive methods, and we should be aware of them and how to utilize them. The rhythm method is one of the oldest methods of contraception. It has been used over the centuries in family planning. It is basically based on the calendar. The normal menstrual cycle runs for 28 to 32 days. Ovulation is most likely to occur on day 14. Hence, women are advised to avoid any sexual contact from the 9th day through to the 19th. It worked in the olden days and can most likely work for us today if we pay attention.

With the advancement of everything we use, women can use basal body temperature to check their ovulation. A thermometer can be used in these circumstances to check the temperature of the woman every morning immediately they wake up. A rise of 0.5 or 1 degree is noted during ovulation, and this temperature remains constant until the next period. Through this method, a woman can tell when they ovulate and also when it has already happened. This ensures that the couple will be knowledgeable and hence help them in family planning. The tracking of the cervical mucus is one more method that can be used by a woman in determining her fertility at different times of the month. During ovulation, the cervical mucus is clear and stretchy and looks like raw egg whites. A woman needs to keep track of how their mucus looks like each day, and this will help in their discovery of what their menstrual cycle looks like. It is possible to use all three natural methods to enhance effectiveness.

Couples need to look for alternative ways of contraception in case the normal family planning methods are unavailable. Most Kenyans use the Femi-planning pills and other barrier methods that are used on a day to day basis. Fewer couples utilize IUDs and implants as their ideal form of contraception; hence they may not have the stress of contraception. But for those who use contraceptive ways that may run out and those not using them at all, it is time to think family planning methods we can practice without going to the hospital.

The natural family planning methods are ideal ways during these pandemic times as we spend more time indoors with our partners.

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