Your children are having sex while you stick your heads under the sand! Yes, I’m talking to the majority of African parents who treat sex as a taboo; who won’t even discuss it.
“Don’t have it!” they say. Or threaten you with some, “If you get pregnant, you will see chete!” (the funny thing about pregnancy is the consequences always fall on the women….oh well!)
Schools, on the other hand, do a pretty good job with graphic pictures of people who have been ravaged by STIs (wait! shouldn’t we sue those guys for emotional trauma?).
Research has shown that cases of sexual promiscuity amongst those aged between 16 and 34 are low in a society where sex is discussed openly. Not only that, but the pregnancy rate is also significantly lower.
Mind you, ignorance doesn’t just live in the camp of the curious adolescent but the married woman who believes she has to double in mass.
Having sex is not a death sentence, and people are still storming the cotton gin, doing the horizontal bop, making the beast with two backs or whatever kids call it these days. But we need to be cautious in our sexual conduct. Which is what this article is all about.
Listen! You don’t have to get pregnant; you don’t have to “get fat and ugly” (isn’t it what they say about pregnant women? Sigh!). Thus, I have compiled together a couple of help from trusted sources that will assist you in eschewing parturiency up to the time you feel like it or help you maintain a sexually healthy life.
Disclaimer; I do not recommend them in the capacity of a biochemist, but as a woman and advocate of sexual awareness. Please remember that none of these methods are 100%. Always find the one that works for you based on trial error. Remember to stay safe and comfortable and don’t ever allow your partner to pressure you into doing something you’re not comfortable with.
Intrauterine Devices (IUD): This a device that prevents the sperm from reaching the egg. It comes in two forms. The hormone-releasing IUD and the copper IUD. Both can last from 5 to 10 years. IUDs are reversible and can be removed by a doctor or nurse when one decides to conceive. IUDs are not affected by other medications and are considered the best form of contraception.
Contraceptive Implant: This is a plastic rod placed under the arm which releases hormones. It can last for up to 3 years. This is not my personal favourite since I’ve seen people put on lots of weight with this device, but it doesn’t undermine its effectiveness.
Contraceptive Injection (Depo): This is an injection of hormones administered every 12-14 weeks. It is not affected by other medications, but bleeding and weight gain can be a side effect.
The Female Pill: This is a combination of synthetic progesterone and oestrogen. What they basically do is thicken the lining of the uterus and prevent the sperm from going through. The pill is taken daily. Side effects include weight gain, increased appetite and bleeding. Here in Zimbabwe we have the government-issued pill. For those with more funds brands, such as Yasmin and Yaz are available which have reduced side effects.
The Male Pill: This is on trial and is taken by men to reduce sperm count in the semen.
Vaginal Ring: This has the same hormones as the combined pill and is placed in the vagina like a tampon. It stays there for three weeks and is replaced after one week of removal.
Male Condom: Perhaps to me the best form of contraception. Not only is it the cheapest but it prevents STIs. Yes, I know everyone is all about raw hot beef injection but remember your greatest responsibility on earth is safeguarding your health. Companies like Durex are continuously finding ways to make your experience more satisfying.
Female Condom: These are put in before intercourse and take practice to use. When used correctly it is just as effective as the male condom.
Diaphragm: This is silicon dome placed in the uterus to prevent the sperm from reaching the egg. It should stay in place 6 hours after sex. It is 86% effective.
Female Sterilisation-tube litigation: This can be an irreversible form of contraception but is 100% effective. Depending on the type of litigation you undergo the method can be reversible. Methods which utilize clips are reversible whereas those that involve scarring are not.
Male Vasectomy: The involves cutting the tubes that carry sperm and is permanent.
Menstrual Cycle: This involves having sex when you are not ovulating. This can be 16 days before your period. There are applications such as Flo which can help you determine when you are most fertile.
Withdrawal: This involves the man withdrawing and ejaculating outside of the vagina. Though risky, many people seem to be in favour of it.
Foods: Papaya – eaten once or twice a day it is said to prevent pregnancy and reduce sperm count. Ginger induces period thereby preventing pregnancy. It can be used as an emergency form of birth control. Cinnamon has actually been proven to induce a miscarriage. Pineapple is said eating a pineapple everyday 2-3 days after sex can prevent pregnancy. Cheese increases sperm count so men stay away from it.
Emergency contraception can prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex or if the contraception you have used has failed – for example, a condom has split or you have missed a pill. There are 2 types of emergency contraception: the emergency contraceptive pill – Levonelle or ellaOne (the “morning-after” pill) and the intrauterine device (IUD or coil).
Valerie Tendai Chatindo is a biochemist, businesswoman and writer.