Looking back 50 years ago, there were very few family planning methods in Kenya. But in the modern world, with over 15 different types of contraception methods, you are literally spoiled for choice.
But this variety of methods also brings with it the confusion of not knowing which contraceptives are good for you. Unlike in the past where perhaps there was only the pill and the condoms, couples nowadays have to do a little research and consider a number of available options before settling on a contraception method that is suitable for them.
So if you are ready to look beyond the pill and the condom and explore other contraceptive methods available here in Kenya, this post is for you. I have listed below the contraceptives that are available right now. Some of them may not be readily found in Kenya but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to access them.
1. The pill
If you have used a contraceptive before, you have probably used the pill. Founded back in the 1960s, the pill remains the most widely used female contraceptive worldwide. The simplicity of use has made it a favorite among many women. When it comes to preventing pregnancies, contraceptive pill are known to be at least 95% effective. When taken properly, the percentage rises to 99%.
Types of contraceptive pill
Contraceptive pills are of two types:
- Combined pill – This is the most commonly used by women. It is usually simply referred to as ‘the pill’ and contains estrogen and progestin hormones, hence the name ‘combined’. The hormones work by inhibiting the ovaries from releasing an egg, making it difficult for the sperms to reach the egg and also preventing the egg from implanting on the womb lining.
The combined pill is usually administered orally once a day for three weeks. This is followed by a week gap; the time you will be having your periods.
- The mini pill – It contains only the progesterone hormone and that is why it is sometimes referred to as the Progesterone-only pill. This pill is usually prescribed to women who for some medical or personal reasons, cannot take estrogen hormone. Unlike the combined pill, the mini one is taken daily with no seven day’s break.
Both the combined pill and the mini pill are 99% effective in preventing pregnancies.
An important caution to keep in mind is that contraceptive pills do not prevent STIs. It is always wise to get a professional direction on how to use the pill.
2. The male condom
While the pill is popular with women, the male condom has become a monopoly in the men population. It is hard to come across a situation where you talk to a man about contraceptives and a condom does not pop in mind. In fact, most men know it as the only form of contraception. You may not pardon the ignorance but, hey, look at it from another angle; the thing is easy to use, affordable and also very effective in preventing the spread of STIs. Sometimes, they even have your favorite smell! Men would go for that any day.
Male condoms are usually made of latex. Some are made of polyurethane or lambskin.
NB: Lambskin condoms will not keep you from conducting STIs, use them responsibly.
3. The female condom
Many first time female contraceptive users do not quickly embrace the use of female condoms. Many of them stick with the pill or use it long enough to have guts for the condom. They are a bit more expensive than the male condoms but more durable. They can actually be inserted 8 hours prior to having sex.
They prevent 99% pregnancies and will also protect you against STIs.
4. The Diaphragm
The diaphragm is placed inside the vagina in a such a way that it stands in the way of the sperm getting into the vagina. Before having sex, you should first coat it with spermicide and insert it six hours before sex. The diaphragm is usually removed after 24 hours for cleaning purposes and can be reused severally depending on the type of the material.
Although it is a barrier contraceptive like the condom, the diaphragm will not protect you against STIs.
5. The Cervical Cap
It is also called Femcap. It is designed like a diaphragm but usually come in smaller sizes. Like the diaphragm, it is also coated with a spermicide before sex.
Unlike the other contraceptives, the Femcap remains in the vagina for up to six hours after sex but must be taken out within 48 hours of having sex.
While the diaphragm covers most of the vagina, the Cervical cap only covers the cervix hence being a good choice for women who have reported developing cystitis after using the diaphragm.
6. The Intrauterine Device (IUD)
The IUD possess some of the most interesting contraception capabilities than any of the others. It is a T shaped device and is usually inserted by a professional doctor.
They come in two types;
a) Hormonal IUD
This one works more like the hormonal birth control pill. Once inside the uterus, Hormonal IUD has 4 main functions:
- Releases progesterone hormone in small amounts to prevent the sperm from reaching the egg.
- Prevent ovulation i.e. the release of an egg by the ovary.
- Thickens the cervical mucus to inhibit the sperm from swimming to the egg.
- Thins the uterine lining to keep the fertilized egg from implanting.
b) Copper Based IUD
The IUD comes wrapped in copper wire. This contraceptive works for up to ten years and can still prevent pregnancy five days after having unprotected sex.
One of the fascinating thing about the IUDs is the fact that you can keep them inside the for a period of five or ten years without a single removal. But this kind of durability carries with it a high price tag. All you have to do is look at the bright side; you will not have to worry about contraceptives for 10 years!
If you are fed up with a taking a pill daily or can’t just remember to do so every time, this should be the perfect solution for you.
They are more than 99% effective although they will not protect you against STIs.
It is always advisable to have a doctor or a credible expert insert the IUD for you. Some sources claim that an IUD can still keep you from getting pregnant if inserted within five days after having sex.
7. The Contraceptive Implant
This is another option that will provide you with long term protection like the IUDs. They can be used for up to 3 years. Like the Pill and the IUD, it also contains progesterone hormone and uses the same principle of contraception. However, it is more effective than the pill.
The contraceptive implant is inserted in the arm by a professional doctor and removed after three years.