EASTERN CAPE – Despite ongoing campaigns and intervention programmes promoting safe sex, contraceptive use remains a controversial issue for South African youth.
Contraceptive use remains low as substantiated by the high rate of unwanted pregnancies reported. More education is needed, particularly for young women who are not always aware of the side-effects of contraceptives or all the dangers of unprotected sex. There is a range of contraceptive methods, including long-acting reversible contraceptives such as an implant, hormonal contraceptives like the pill or injection and barrier methods such as condoms as well as permanent solutions such as vasectomies or tubal ligation.
In the Eastern Cape Siphesande Mtelu, who lives in Flagstaff, said she uses the injection.
“Ever since I gave birth when I was 15 years old, I started making sure I would not fall pregnant again. Prevention helps me raise the baby with love and happiness. Prevention helps me to reach my goals and make my career success. At first, I experienced changes in my body and I suffered from headaches and uterus aches. But now I am using the depo injection and I’m comfortable with it,” she said.
Babalwa Maphetshana said prevention is not her thing.
“I don’t prevent and that is because I have a womb problem which has troubled me ever since I gave birth. Doctors told me that I have a yeast infection so I need to avoid eating some foods. Now I’m afraid of using contraceptives as they also have side effects,” she explained.
She said she needed to explore the contraceptive options available, as did many other young women. She said education and awareness campaigns were lacking in her province.
Nomsa Mkula, who works in family planning at Sipetu Hospital, said there were awareness programmes conducted by the Department of Health, educating your people on the challenges facing them and what they can do to protect themselves.
“Government is doing all it can but it looks like it’s just a waste of time because teenage pregnancy is high. People listen and forget, and they don’t seem to understand that they are not just risking unwanted pregnancies. They are doing something that can endanger their lives because out there, there are diseases.”
“I think if young girls can teach one another about the importance of contraceptives, the country will have a lower number of teenage pregnancies. Contraceptives can prevent pregnancy and also prevent other infections,” Mkula said.
An edited version of this story was published by Health24.