The acting Dean of the School of Public Health of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Dr Easmon Otupiri, has advised women against the excessive use of emergency contraceptive pills or tablets also known as ECP, as a normal birth control measure.
He said, unlike the various family planning methods such as the investable, the pill, the implant, intra uterine device (IUD), condoms and the permanent ones like vasectomy and tubal ligation, the ECP, that is used by women within 72 hours of sexual intercourse, should only be used in emergency cases and not as an alternative to birth control.
At a one-day training workshop for media personnel drawn from the Ashanti and the Brong Ahafo regions on family planning with the focus on the use of contraceptives, Dr Otupiri said it was not advisable to use the ECP more than three times in a year, indicating that the excessive use of ECP could pose a health threat to women who abused its intake.
The seminar was to update the knowledge of the media on contraceptive use in the country and the need to demystify the misconceptions associated with the use of contraceptives, and also educate the public on the benefits of family planning.
Importance of family planning
Dr Otupiri said aside helping families to provide adequately for their children, family planning also helped governments in planning to meet the development needs of the people to match with population growth.
Presenting a report of a study undertaken in 2013 amongst women in Ejisu in the Ejisu-Juaben municipality of the Ashanti Region, it was discovered that the fear of side effects of contraceptives made a lot of women discontinue their use.
Out of the 700 women interviewed, 33 per cent, that is 231, cited the fear of the side effects as the main reason why they discontinued the usage.
While there were other reasons why many of the women discontinued the use of contraceptives as a birth control method, the fear of side effects topped the list.
According to the acting Dean of the School of Public Health, most of these side effects were perceptions and not real. He, therefore, called for more education to expose women and couples to the benefits of family planning.
Statistics on contraceptive use in Ashanti
The Ashanti Regional Deputy Director of Public Health, Dr Joseph Oduro, presenting a paper on contraceptive use in the region, noted that the injectable was the leading method used by most women in the region.
He said statistics available indicated that depo provera, the three-month injection contraceptive, was the commonly used method by women.
In 2012, 113,249 women were recorded to have used depo provera as a birth control method and that number increased to 118,532 in 2013.
Dr Oduro explained that most women found the injectable easier and simpler to use than the rest which at times required permission from their partners.
According to him, most of the ladies went for the injections on market days and returned home without the knowledge of their partners, helping them to have some peace of mind and have sex without the fear of getting pregnant.
Unlike the developed countries where the IUD method was the most preferred method, it was the least preferred in the region.
The injectable was closely followed by the male condoms with no record on vasectomy.
Dr Oduro, however, explained that the data available to the health directorate was not a true reflection of the real situation on the ground as it was difficult getting data from some service providers.
According to him, unlike the injectable, vasectomy, IUD and a few other methods, the rest of the services could be procured over the counter at pharmacies and chemical shops, and as such it was not easy getting information from the service providers.
That notwithstanding, he advised that before one chose a method, one needed to speak to a health professional who would advise him/her on the options available and the one suitable for him or her.
Source: Daily Graphic
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