Sexploration Season 2 Episode 6: The Onus of Contraception

Published On: December 23, 2022 02:00 PM NPT By: Samiksha Shrestha

Historically the burden and onus of family planning in centered on women. The burden of using and obtaining contraception has always fallen onto women. Be it the variety of contraceptive methods catering to women, to the state’s family planning initiatives – contraception has seemed to become a woman’s problem. Women have to bear the physical, economical, and mental burden of contraception alone. Men often tend to shrink their responsibility for using contraceptives. But why does this happen and what can be done to create a more equal responsibility for contraception? In this concern, Host Kriti Adhikari and guest, Durga Sapkota National Coordinator of Sangat Nepal, and co-founder of YOSAN talk about the onus of contraception on women. How the responsibility of using a contraceptive is vested on the side of women rather than men. 

There are various types of contraceptives, categorized into natural and artificial. Those categories of artificial contraceptives are again divided into subcategories of long-term and short-term/ temporary and permanent. Those include Natural- ovulation tracking, ejaculation method, and cervical/mucus method. Artificial: Short-term- pills, Depo-Provera, Long-term- permanent sterilization, implant/Norplant, IUD, Copper T. These all contraceptives are vested upon women. On the other side, there are only two contraceptive procedures for men which are Short term-condom and Long-term- vasectomy. This shows that science as well as social efforts to promote contraception use have historically too, primarily focused on contraception methods that can be used by women. Although there have been developments of several pills or shots for males, they are not ready to give clinical trials. So, the effectiveness of those birth control pills could not be checked. 

"According to the study of 1990-2006, it is found that the female sterilization procedures have increased from 28 to 38. But there is no data on sterilization done by male counterparts. And according to the study of 2011- 2016, it is found that the male sterilization has been minimized and the use of Depo-Provera has increased." said Durga Sapkota. She stated that while seeing modern medicine and technology focus on more contraceptives for women, we should also emphasize who is the major funder and investor for the production of such devices. Of course, they are men. In addition to that, she said," In terms of health, minimum budget is allocated, under which very little is invested in sexual and reproductive, maternity health. Moreover, even the investment allocated is not implemented. The stakeholder does not care if the maternal death rate is high. They are careless even though due to the unavailability of contraceptives, there is a high chance of unwanted pregnancy and unsafe abortion. Due to repeated pregnancy, a woman has to face various health hazards like postpartum hemorrhage, and blood pressure during pregnancy. But the lawmakers are not conscious because they treat women as less of a human, in a secondary category. There is also a question of how many men have died during sexual intercourse, which is none."

In our society, there is no idea that family planning and contraception should be a shared responsibility. Some claim men are less motivated to use contraception because pregnancy entails fewer consequences for them than for women. Besides the fact that it is women who actually carry a child, though, the main reason a pregnancy is thought to have more long-term consequences for women is that women are assumed to be the primary caretakers of children. This assumption is based on socially constructed gender roles. women have to bear the risk even while using the contraceptive and when choosing not to use them. A woman cannot bear unwanted pregnancy every time and every time she cannot bear the consequences of unplanned pregnancy. Some men prioritize their pleasure thus forcing women to use hormonal methods as compared to condoms. She adds that we are shaped and nurtured in a patriarchal environment. Even in the school curriculum, we are not taught openly about safe sex. So, due to authenticity youths get misinformation and get involved in unsafe sex. Even in this event, society will assassinate the character of women, and victims blame them.

Women have to bear the long-term side effects of contraceptives like hormonal change and other complications. Even though Condoms and vasectomies are two existing contraceptive methods for men and some men can only have side effects like an allergy to the latex of condoms, most men refuse to wear them, owing to myths related to condoms reducing pleasure during sex. Social and cultural ideas of virility and manhood also act as a deterrent for men using contraception. But from the global study, it is found that it is just a myth. Another reason there are no male LARCs is the dominant perception that men do not think they should be responsible for contraception and are not interested in using it, therefore there is no market for the product. Even though males are fertile 24 hrs 7 days and females are fertile for 2-3 days, females are made accountable for the consequences.

Thus, this podcast highlights that with a need for more interest in developing male contraceptives, it is also important for men to shoulder the responsibility of contraception meanwhile. Partners need to take equal responsibility for contraception and their reproductive and sexual well-being, the onus of which must no longer fall onto women.

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