Contraception is also known as birth control or fertility control, it involves the use of practices, methods, or devices to prevent pregnancy from occurring in a sexually active woman. The use of contraception has been endorsed by the World Health Organization to support and strengthen national contraceptive and family planning policies.
The most effective methods are sterilization (vasectomy in males and tubal ligation in females), intrauterine devices and birth control implants. These are followed by the hormonals which include oral contraceptive pills and injections. Less effective methods include barrier methods which are condoms and diaphragms. The least effective methods include the use of spermicides and withdrawal method. The choice of method of contraception is dependent on the effectiveness, ability to use it properly and consistently.
Culture, religious beliefs and tradition all have a big impact on the perception and acceptance of contraception as a concept and the various methods available. Facts about contraception and their modes of action are subject to misinterpretation, in fact in certain populations where religion seems to oppose its use, tradition may permit it. While some religions or cultures accept family planning as a responsible choice and basic human right, others condemn it strongly.
Among Christians, there are different opinions on the use of contraception, for example some believe that the Bible condemns coitus interruptus and withdrawal methods of contraception using Genesis 38:9-10 as defense. Such individuals believe it could increase the possibility of infidelity, promiscuity, and a general lowering of moral standards.
The Roman Catholic Church opposes the use of contraception and orgasmic acts outside the institution of marriage. Their opinion is that the conception of a child is a natural outcome of sexual activity that should be welcomed without any attempt at interfering with the process.
The Anglican Church at the Lambeth Conference considered contraception acceptable in all cases. Similarly, the Methodist Church supports responsible use of birth control for child spacing, pregnancy prevention and for medical reasons. The Protestants however have a more diverse view on the use of contraception.
Some Protestants believe that the use of all forms of contraception is wrong because children should be had in abundance. Some believe in ‘controlled abundance’ where only natural methods of contraception are acceptable. Another group believes in the responsible use of all forms of contraception and others do not believe in having children at all.
The Qur’an encourages procreation, but permanent, or irreversible methods of contraception are considered ‘haram’ (prohibited) because they involve changing the way the human body would normally function (Al Qur’an 30:30). Reversible contraception may be permitted for a limited period however, provided it is free from harmful side effects.
Birth control pills are frowned upon because of their hormonal influence and side effects. Medical termination of pregnancy is also considered haram however it can be considered if the life of the mother is in danger.
Lactational amenorrhea is believed to have been provided by Allah (SWT) as a natural method of contraception and is therefore acceptable. Coitus Interruptus may be permitted if there is mutual consent of both the husband and the wife.
The four major religions: Christianity, Catholicism, Islam, Judaism each have different sects, denominations, and beliefs. However, while each religion may have a central doctrine about contraceptive use, denominations and individuals still differ in their views and practices outside the central doctrine.
Medically, the use of contraceptives has several proven benefits, some of which include reduced number of unwanted pregnancies, abortion rates, and reduced rates of transmission of sexually transmitted infections. Economically, it has saved healthcare resources and led to economic growth due to a reduction in dependent children.
Socio-economically, more young girls can graduate from school and seek higher education, women are better able to plan and space childbirth to achieve their education and career goals. A higher proportion of women contributing to the workforce increases economic growth, productivity, and so much more. Lastly, contraceptives may also be medically indicated for the treatment and prevention of several illnesses.
Dr Omowunmi H. Thanni is a physician with a medical degree from Olabisi Onabanjo University Ago-Iwoye (Mb.ChB. Ogun). She is an Infant and Childhood Mental Health enthusiast who is passionate about supporting children with mental health concerns.
She is also an Early Childcare practitioner with experience observing children dealing with grief, the various psychosocial presentations, and the impact on their families. She is also a Child and Family Volunteer who serves as a healthy support system for children and families who have experienced the loss of one or both parents to terminal illnesses.
She is devoted to debunking cultural myths surrounding childhood mental health and enlightening the community on proper prevention and intervention strategies.