Access to family planning: your stories

September 3, 2013 • Family Planning, Reproductive Health, Daily Email Recap

Access to family planning: your stories
Readers share their experiences through GuardianWitness to highlight access to contraception around the world


It is estimated that 222 million women are unable to access modern family planning. When, and if, to have children, and how many to have are choices many take for granted. But many women in developing countries are unable to access services due to family, cultural or religious pressures, or are let down by health systems, or legislation.

We asked our readers to help us build a global picture of contraception access and use, using GuardianWitness. Below are some of your thoughts.

A major obstacle to accessing contraception is the misconceptions that exist around sex and women’s fertility. Zoea12, who recently volunteered on a family planning programme in the Philippines, which involved a short questionnaire with those who attended classes, was shocked to find that many women thought family planning was solely a woman’s responsibility. She was also told by a midwife that a patient believed she was protected by wearing a condom on her finger.

Chilanga explained that in Tanzania men have a mixed understanding of contraception and reproductive health. Condoms have holes and make men infertile, and contraceptive pills make women infertile, are some of the common misunderstandings. And Kityojames recounted a conversation with a man in Uganda who would not allow his wife to use contraceptives because he believed she would stop having sex with him. “Much as I would not like to have more children – seven children are already so many – I still need sex in my life,” the man said. Both readers say men need more education.

Sometimes it is health workers who are misinformed. Printmaker remembers being told by a doctor that “all women start their periods on the 28th of every month”.

A multitude of barriers can prevent women from accessing contraception. Kityojames says two major issues in Uganda are ignorance about what contraceptives are and what they do; and the power men have over sexual relationships.

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