* Represents mandatory fields
By Jennifer Orisakwe, DLHA Volunteer and Freelance Writer, with editorial support from the DLHA Team.
Click on image to enlarge.
The use of birth control pills is as old as procreation itself.
Even before the advent of orthodox medicine, Nigerian women used herbs and plants instead of birth control pills.
These traditional herbs and plants have been used for centuries in Nigeria for various medicinal purposes, including contraception.
Herbal plants used traditionally in Nigeria include; Neem (popularly known among the Yorubas and Hausas as Ogede Omo and Dongoyaro respectively), Tetrapleura tetraptera (known as uhio among the Igbos) and Wild yam.
They were commonly used for a variety of medicinal purposes, including contraception.
It is important to note that the use of traditional herbs and plants for contraception in Nigeria is not supported by scientific research and may carry health risks.
However, over the years we have progressed to utilizing orthodox birth controls.
The history of birth control pills in Nigeria can be traced back to the 1960s, when the first oral contraceptives were introduced in the country. However, at the time, their use was largely restricted to urban areas and was only accessible to a small segment of the population.
It was not until the 1980s that the Nigerian government began to promote family planning as a means of controlling population growth. This led to increased awareness of birth control pills and other contraceptive methods, and their availability expanded across the country.
In Nigeria, birth control pills have become an increasingly popular method of family planning, yet myths and misinformation surrounding their use persist. These can have serious consequences for women's health, including unintended pregnancies and inadequate protection against sexually transmitted infections.
Data from the Measurement, Learning & Evaluation (MLE) project from Nigeria demonstrate high levels of misinformation about family planning in urban areas.
Across six Nigerian cities, the proportion of women who believed the myth that contraceptive users have health problems ranged from 33% in Abuja to 57% in Ibadan. The proportion among men was 25–48%.
This article explores the common myths and misinformation surrounding birth control pills, providing reliable information and dispelling misconceptions to help Nigerian women make informed decisions about their contraception within the Nigerian cultural context.
In Nigeria, there are several myths and misconceptions surrounding birth control methods. Busting these myths and providing accurate information is essential to promote reproductive health and family planning. Here are some common myths about birth control in Nigeria and why they should be debunked:
Busted: Women who have had children in the past are not the only ones who can use birth control. Women of various reproductive ages, even those who have not yet given birth, can use them for their reproductive health needs.
Busted: This widespread misunderstanding has been debunked. Most forms of birth control pills do not result in infertility. A woman's fertility usually returns to normal after stopping the usage of contraceptives. When a woman stops using hormonal contraceptives, she may temporarily have a delay in getting pregnant, but this is not lifelong infertility.
Busted: Contrary to popular perception, using birth control pills is not intrinsically incompatible with religious or cultural convictions. As a method of responsible family planning and as a means of advancing the welfare of individuals and families, the use of contraceptives is endorsed by many religious leaders and groups. To dispel myths and encourage educated decision-making, it is crucial to have open discussions regarding birth control in religious or cultural contexts.
Busted: Contrary to popular belief, birth control pills are generally safe and well-tolerated when taken properly. Side effects that are frequently experienced include breast discomfort, nausea, and brief irregular bleeding. The benefits of avoiding unwanted births frequently outweigh these side effects. Serious problems are extremely uncommon. To choose an appropriate strategy based on a person's health and needs, it's crucial to speak with healthcare professionals.
Busted: Contrary to popular belief, using hormonal contraceptives, in particular, does not cause significant weight gain. Scientific study, however, refutes this assertion. While some people who use hormonal contraceptives could have modest weight fluctuations, there are many different factors that might affect an individual's weight. Making decisions based on correct information and seeking individualized advice from healthcare specialists is crucial.
Contrary to popular belief, using birth control, especially hormonal contraceptives, doesn't raise your risk of getting cancer. This is backed by scientific evidence indicating that using most forms of birth control does not increase the risk of cancer and, in certain situations, may even have preventative effects against particular cancers. To analyze individual risks and choose a contraceptive method that best suits one's medical requirements, it is essential to have frank and educated conversations with healthcare providers.
a) Knowledge misunderstanding: They leads to misunderstanding about how birth control pills work and their potential side effects.
b) Discourage accurate information seeking: They discourage individuals who are not well-informed from seeking out accurate information and making informed decisions about their birth control pills options.
c) Create knowledge distortion: The knowledge distortion about birth control pills can have significant impact on people's decisions about using them.
d) Create fear and confusion: Myths can create fear and confusion, leading to a lack of trust in the safety and effectiveness of the pills.
This can result in individuals avoiding or discontinuing the use of birth control pills altogether, which can have serious consequences for their reproductive health.
For example, the belief that birth control pills cause infertility can prevent women from using them, even though there is no scientific evidence to support this claim. This can result in unintended pregnancies and a lack of control over their reproductive choices.
Similarly, the myth that birth control pills cause weight gain can discourage women from using them, even though research has shown that any weight gain associated with birth control pills is typically minor and temporary.
There is a large body of scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness and safety of birth control pills as a method of contraception.
Birth control pills are one of the most widely studied forms of contraception and have been used globally by 151 million women as reported by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
Scientific evidence strongly supports the effectiveness and safety of birth control pills as a method of contraception.
When used correctly, birth control pills are highly effective at preventing pregnancy.
The failure rate for perfect use (using the pills exactly as prescribed) is less than 1%, and the failure rate for typical use (taking the pills correctly most of the time) is around 9%.
Birth control pills are generally safe for most women. Like all medications, they may have some potential side effects, but these are usually mild and temporary. As stated earlier, the most common side effects of birth control pills include nausea, headache, breast tenderness, and breakthrough bleeding.
In addition to preventing pregnancy, birth control pills have a number of other potential health benefits. These include:
It is important to note that birth control pills are not suitable for everyone.
Women who smoke, have a history of blood clots or stroke, or have certain medical conditions (such as uncontrolled high blood pressure or certain types of cancer) may not be able to take birth control pills.
It is also important for women to talk to their healthcare provider about their medical history and any potential risks before starting any form of contraception.
There are common myths and misconceptions about birth control pills in Nigeria, which may make it more difficult for people to make informed decisions and receive appropriate reproductive health care.
By busting these myths and dispelling misinformation, people are empowered to make knowledgeable decisions about their reproductive health and improve the general wellbeing of themselves, their families, and communities.
More favorable environment for reproductive health in Nigeria needs to be created by busting myths and debunking misinformation.
Promoting accurate information, healthcare access, and candid conversations about contraceptive options are essential to the public’s health.
Providing people with correct information enables them to make decisions that are in line with their goals for reproductive health, creating healthier communities and enhancing public health.
Abasiattai AM, Utuk MN, Ojeh SO, Eyo UE. Combined Oral Contraceptive Pills: Profile of Acceptors in a Tertiary Hospital in South-South Nigeria. Niger Med J. 2011 Jan;52(1):19-23. PMID: 21969170; PMCID: PMC3180757. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21969170/
Caldwell, J. C., & Ware, H. The Evolution of Family Planning in an African City: Ibadan, Nigeria. Population Studies, (1977) 31(3), 487–507. https://doi.org/10.2307/2173370
ClevelandClinic. Birth Control: The Pill. Last updated 07/21/2020. Accessed May 18, 2023. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/drugs/3977-birth-control-the-pill
Gueye A, Speizer IS, Corroon M, Okigbo CC. Belief in Family Planning Myths at the Individual and Community Levels and Modern Contraceptive Use in Urban Africa. Int Perspect Sex Reprod Health. 2015 Dec;41(4):191-9. doi: 10.1363/4119115 PMID: 26871727; PMCID: PMC4858446.
Guttmacher Institute's Fact Sheet (2020) Contraceptive Effectiveness in the United States. Accessed May 18, 2023. https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/contraceptive-effectiveness-united-states
MLE, Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (NURHI) and National Population Commission (NPC) 2010–2011 Nigeria Baseline Survey for the Urban Reproductive Health Initiative. Chapel Hill, NC, USA: MLE; 2011. https://tciurbanhealth.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/nurhi_baseline_facility_report_23feb12_final.pdf
Robinson, R. S. (2012). Negotiating Development Prescriptions: The Case of Population Policy in Nigeria. Population Research and Policy Review, 31(2), 267–296. http://www.jstor.org/stable/41409617
United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Contraceptive Use by Method. Data Booklet. Pg 3 (2019). https://www.un.org/development/desa/pd/sites/www.un.org.development.desa.pd/files/files/documents/2020/Jan/un_2019_contraceptiveusebymethod_databooklet.pdf
World Bank. Contraceptive prevalence, any methods (% of women ages 15-49). 2018. https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.CONU.ZS?view=map&year=2012
Published: May 25,, 2023
© 2023. Datelinehealth Africa Inc. All rights reserved.
Permission is given to copy, use and share content without alteration or modification and subject to attribution as to source.
DATELINEHEALTH AFRICA INC., is a digital publisher for informational and educational purposes and does not offer personal medical care and advice. If you have a medical problem needing routine or emergency attention, call your doctor or local emergency services immediately, or visit the nearest emergency room or the nearest hospital. You should consult your professional healthcare provider before starting any nutrition, diet, exercise, fitness, medical or wellness program mentioned or referenced in the DatelinehealthAfrica website. Click here for more disclaimer notice.