Apr 3, 2013, 11:42 AM
But no matter what the terminology, sexually active people can choose from a number of methods to reduce the possibility of their becoming pregnant.
Nevertheless, no method of birth control available today offers perfect protection against sexually transmitted infections (sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs), except abstinence.
All methods of birth control are based on either preventing a man’s sperm from reaching and entering a woman’s egg (fertilization) or preventing the fertilized egg from implanting in the woman’s uterus (her womb) and starting to grow.
New methods of birth control are being developed and tested all the time. What is appropriate for a couple at one point in their lives may change with time and circumstances.
Unfortunately, no birth control method, except abstinence, is considered to be 100 per cent effective.
The contraceptive prevalence in The Gambia and fertility determinants survey done in 1990 revealed that only 6.7 per cent of the Gambian population uses contraceptives. Although agencies such as The Gambia Family Planning Association (GFPA) encourage the use of contraceptives, family planning continues to meet with resistance for a number of reasons.
One major factor that affects the utilization of contraceptives is the husband’s role in determining the family size.
Many husbands do not support the use of birth control because they desire to have many children. Another deterrent to family planning is the practice of polygamy. In fact, over half of married women and over a third of married men are in a polygamous relationship.
Many feel that family planning goes against the teaching of Islam and the Quran. The Islamic Sharriah Law encourages a pro-natalist attitude and a preference for male children.
A woman’s age and educational status figure into her attitudes about family because a woman with little education or who marries at an early age is likely to have more children.
According to the WHO, in 2004, the birth rate was 4.6.
Many West African women still desire to have reproductive freedom and choose to take advantage of family planning methods, such as the pill, which is usually offered free of charge and without a prescription.
Birth Control choices:
Condoms are available at Family Planning clinics. Survey data indicate that contraceptive and condom use is low, but is rising in The Gambia.
The contraceptive prevalence rate for modern methods is about 13 percent (UNFPA, 2001 and Maternal Mortality Survey, 2002).
Condom use (for family planning and/or STI/HIV/AIDS prevention) accounts for less than a quarter of modern method use (UNFPA).
While condoms are not a popular family planning method, there is growing evidence that condom use is increasing for STI/HIV/AIDS prevention, especially among youths.
A survey estimated condom use at 34 percent among 1,000 unmarried youths (NACP, 2001).
The Gambia Family Planning Association (GFPA) through its young volunteers at the New World for Youth Centre in Bundung and its branches across the country have been facilitating the free distribution of condoms to young people who are sexually active. Depo - Provera injections are also available.
By far the most popular form of birth control is breast feeding, which is effective for about two years.
15 per cent of single females have been pregnant once, and over 65 per cent of these pregnancies were unplanned. A legal abortion is attainable, but two doctors must concur in order for a woman to have a therapeutic abortion.
The intrauterine device (IUD) is a method of birth control designed for insertion into a woman’s uterus so that changes occur in the uterus that makes it difficult for fertilization of an egg and implantation of a pregnancy.
IUDs also have been referred to as “intrauterine contraception (IUC).
IUDs contain medications that are released over time to facilitate the contraceptive effect.
The IUD is a small “T”-shaped device with a monofilament tail that is inserted into the uterus by a health care practitioner in the office setting.
When inserted into the uterus, the arms of the “T” are folded down, but they then open out to form the top of the “T”. The device rests inside the uterus with the base of the T just above the cervix and the arms of the T extending horizontally across the uterus.
A short piece of monofilament string attached to the IUD extends through the cervix into the vagina. This string makes it possible to be sure that the IUD is still in the uterus.
The use of contraception is a reproductive right of the young people, particularly young mothers. It is not aimed at decreasing the size of your family, but rather it helps in birth spacing so that the young mother can rest and allow her body to return to its full strength after delivery.
Also, it helps the child to spend enough time on the breast, while promoting healthy growth.