African women have had a complex relationship with birth control, so we ask 10 African women, to tell us their experiences using birth control.

Ann; 26, Zambia

I don’t like taking medicine unless it’s really necessary, and I barely finish my courses so I knew the pill was a no. I didn’t like the idea of an implant in my arm, plus I am also too forgetful and tired for an injection. So, my last pick was an IUD. I liked the idea of it being where I couldn’t see it, and it staying in me for years. When it came to the choice between a hormonal IUD and a copper one, I picked copper. I didn’t want extra hormones in my body. The downside to copper IUDs is pain for 6months, increase in cramps and heavy bleeding. There are times I am bleeding so heavily during my periods, that I think I am having a miscarriage. It’s so clotty and a lot. I got it for free at a Marie Stopes clinic in Zambia. They gave free birth control to women under the age of 24.

Zili; 23, Nigeria

I started with the Plan B, but I read that you’re not supposed to be taking those more than once in a menstrual cycle. After that, I switched to the daily pill that led to me going up three dress sizes. I spoke to my mum about non-hormonal options, and the least likely to blow me up further was the IUD. So, here we are now.

Alex; 26, Nigeria

I use the daily pill, and I use it to regulate my period. I used to go through five to seven pads a day, and now my period is lighter. Birth control however has so many side effects for me. The side effects such as weight gain, nausea, vomiting, headache, abdominal cramps/bloating, breast tenderness. Though these only lasts for a few months, it is a lot.

Nana; 35, Ghana

The first time I got birth control, it was after my second child. I did not want any more children, because the child almost killed me. My husband was not aware, and I do not think he needs to be. I went on the daily pill, and my biggest problem was sticking to the time I was meant to take it. One child and a cesarean section later, I had my third child. That was when I needed a new form of birth control and my relationship with the arm implant was born.

Katrina; 22, Nigeria

I was on the pill, and it was excellent till it threw my hormones off. That resulted in a breast lump. I already had a medical history of the condition, fibrodenoma

, but the hormones just made it reoccur. It eventually melted on its own, so all is well that ends well.

Samantha; 31, Zambia

I only use condoms. Always have, always will. Sure there have been a few slips ups like getting pregnant twice, but I still prefer it. I had abortions and moved on. The thought of taking pills, injecting myself or having implants stress me out. For me, condoms cover both STDs and handle birth.

Ife; 21, Nigeria

I have had my IUD in for about two months now. All the basic side effects are explained by the consultant and it really depends on your bodies reaction to a foreign objects. For me, I get random cramps and spotting any time.

Tamilore; 23, Nigeria

I have a latex allergy, so I do not use condoms. I got pregnant, and when I got the abortion done, the doctor said I had to get on at least one form of birth control. The arm implant was what I got, and I think they put it in your least dominant hand because when I told them I was right-handed, they inserted it in my left hand. It is supposed to release hormones that will make getting pregnant difficult, and mine lasts for five years. It cost a pretty penny, but a child will definitely cost more.

Cynthia; 24, Zambia

I’ve tried the combined pill, the injection, progesterone only pill and now I’m on the implant. The best has been the progesterone only pill but the only problem is it had a shorter time period to take. With the combined pill I could slack for up to 12 hours, but the progesterone only pill I had to be consistent. The implant is also good but sadly I gives me very long periods. The plus is that after that long period, I don’t get my period for 2.5 months.

The injection was one of my middle ground ones. It’s a huge dose of hormones so it takes a toll but I never got my period on it. Only thing is you have to replace it every 3 months, and you might not be accessible. My worst, is the combined pill. It’s only benefit was the 12 hour window period when I forget to take it, but it made my period worse and more painful.

Kikelomo; 21, Nigeria

I have been on the progesterone only pill for about three years now and the main inconvenience is having to remember to take them everyday. It is non-intrusive unlike the implants and injections. Recently however, I have started having longer periods.

Please remember that it is very important to speak to your gynaecologist when making decisions on your reproductive and sexual health. For more women focused content, click here


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