“They Destroy the Reproductive System”: Exploring the Belief that Modern Contraceptive Use Causes Infertility

Erica Sedlander, The George Washington University
Jeffrey Bingenheimer , The George Washington University
Rajiv Rimal, The George Washington University
Wolfgang Munar, The George Washington University
Mark Edberg, The George Washington University
Peter Gichangi, International Center for Reproductive Health, Kenya
Mary Thiongo, International Centre for Reproductive Health, Kenya

In sub-Saharan Africa, a common reason for non-use of modern contraceptives is concern about perceived side effects or health complications. The goal of this paper is to provide a detailed characterization of one such belief: that using modern contraception causes infertility. We conducted focus group discussions and key informant interviews in three rural communities in Kenya, and identified the following themes: 1) the belief that using modern contraception at a young age or before childbirth can make a woman infertile is widespread; 2) women observe other women who cannot get pregnant after using modern contraceptives and attribute the infertility to use of contraception; 3) the primary goal of marriage is childbirth and community approval is rigidly tied to childbearing; and, therefore, 5) the social consequences of infertility are devastating. These findings may help program planner’s design and tailor programs to address this belief thereby increasing uptake of modern contraception.

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 Presented in Session 148. Contraception in Context