Shade, 42, and her partner have been together for eight years. They both have children from previous relationships. When she found out she was pregnant, she refused to have an abortion because of her religious belief. She had been on a long-term contraceptive implant, but somehow, something went very wrong. Her partner – an elderly man – was not overtly delighted at the prospect of being a grandfather at 48. In Nigeria, many women have children they are unable to take care of simply because their partners are monsters in bed and unconcerned about family planning. Sadly, in many cases, women are left to take care of children conceived in minutes of indiscriminate pleasure. Many of such children suffer because their parents did not plan their births carefully. A parent cannot give what he does not have. Generational poverty perpetuates itself with cycles of un-intended pregnancies.
Some women need to know how to have sex without making babies. In today’s economic climate, it is best not to have children unless one is ready. In this vein, sex education must be taught to our teenagers early enough so they can make informed decisions should they decide to have sex (without parental knowledge and consent). In the UK, sex education is taught from the time a child is eight years old. Research suggests that children talk about cuddling long before they reach the age of eight. Children want to experiment on what they see on television. The argument for a broad and structured sex education is that it instils respect for others, relationships, consent, safety and biology. The UK government insists that the earlier children are taught about sex (especially girls before they start menstruating) the better. This broad sex education has not helped either; the UK has the highest rate in Europe of teenage pregnancies. Morals are at its lowest. Secondary school children are routinely given ‘morning after pills’ and issued condoms, but not taught to take responsibility for their bodies and passions. Our children should be taught that sex is not all it is glorified to be. Sex should be demystified as well. It is better for a parent to teach her children about sex than to allow the media (television, MTV, Internet) or peers to do the teaching. We live in a post-modern world. There is no wisdom in shirking to discuss sex education with one’s children.
If sex is the fusion of body parts then, the term ‘contraception’ means deliberate prevention of pregnancy. It is sometimes called ‘birth control’ and this can be artificial or natural. Contraception is also the use of hormones, devices or surgery to prevent a woman from becoming pregnant. It allows women to choose when and if they want to have a baby. Family planning has been available for years in Nigeria. Perhaps, to a certain extent, the need for less children is an educated decision.
Different types of artificial contraception prevent pregnancy in different ways. Some examples of artificial contraception: the pill, condoms, intra-uterine device, IUD, often called ‘the coil’ and the diaphragm or cap. The natural methods are as follows: the Rhythm Method limits sex to less fertile times of the month. This method of contraception is, however, unreliable, as it is based on predicting ‘safe’ days and a woman’s cycle can be different every month. The withdrawal method (withdrawing the male’s member before discharging) is also very unreliable as some sperms may be released at any time before the climatic end of the sexual act. The main difference between artificial and natural forms of contraception is that natural contraception still allows for the possibility of pregnancy.
The male condom is the only type of contraception that also protects men and women from sexually transmitted infections, STIs. Male and female condoms create a physical barrier against sperm. Hormonal methods for women, such as the contraceptive pill, prevent the release of an egg from the ovaries and change the environment of the womb to prevent pregnancy. Contraceptive devices, such as the IUD are placed in the womb and prevent pregnancy by releasing copper or hormones into the body.
Before recommending a contraceptive, your doctor may have to assess your age, medical history and sex life. Some contraceptives have possible side effects and it is important to consider these when deciding what sort of protection to use. You may need to change your contraception as you get older, after having children or if your sex life changes in any way. Many contraceptives are over 99 per cent effective if used correctly. Condoms are available free in the UK from family planning clinics, sexual health clinics or GUM (genitourinary medicine) clinics.
By the way, why do people use contraception? The answer is simple. Some people do not want children at all, so they use contraception. Others use condoms to avoid catching STIs. Some use contraception because they are not ready for another baby yet. Some are married, but are not ready yet for children. Some others have children already and do not want any more. Many women in casual relationships use contraception because they do not want the long-term commitment of children.
In spite of the fact that having children is a lifetime responsibility, many have sex without using condoms. In UK like in Nigeria, it is prevalent for a man to have children with different women. In Nigeria, the responsibility to take care of a child rests more on the woman. Perhaps this is why many men fail to wear condoms whilst having sex. That’s selfish and dangerous. Women should refuse to sleep with men who refuse to wear condoms. There is an urgency to educate ourselves about the real dangers of unprotected sex. It is no longer acceptable to have children you are ill prepared for. This is because there are too many children in the world today who are suffering because their parents cannot take proper care of them. Some married women also keep having children for egotistical reasons, such as looking for a girl or a boy child. Sadly, the quality of life and life opportunities these parents offer these children are abysmally limited. Every child deserves the best. It is morally unconscionable to have children when finances are just not there. It is often said that ‘God is the protector of children’, but God doesn’t dispense milk and nappies. Does He? Across Nigeria many children go to bed hungry because poverty-stricken mothers routinely feed their toddlers garri. To end generational poverty in Nigeria, we have to actively support family planning. There is no point bringing children into the world to make them suffer. The idea that a boy child is worth more than a girl child is arrant nonsense. Though this need for boy children is cultural, it only, in many cases, deepens poverty.
Different Christians have different beliefs about contraception. Christians believe that sex should be reserved for marriage. Some denominations teach that family planning is sinful and that theology is perpetuated and accepted. Some even believe that artificial contraception is wrong because: it can interfere with God’s intentions about a couple having a baby. It goes against God’s purpose for sex, which is reproduction. Still, some believe that artificial contraception is acceptable because it can help prevent overcrowding and poverty, help maintain a better quality of family life, help people to make responsible choices and allow a couple to develop their relationship. Many churches, including the Church of England and the Methodist Church teach that contraception is an acceptable method of avoiding unplanned pregnancy and restricting family size. But the Roman Catholic Church teaches that people should not interfere with natural law and only natural methods of contraception are acceptable to the Catholic Church, but there would always be the possibility of pregnancy, in case God wants it to happen.
Some people believe that having control over whether or not they are at risk of getting pregnant is a human right – freedom of choice. Other Christians believe that only God has the right to choose whether or not someone has children.
The idea is not to tell people how to live their lives, but to encourage men and women to make love not babies. Sometimes, contraception fails like in Shade’s case, then, morning after pill should be at hand for women who have an active sex life. Now think about this. Sex lasts seconds; a child lasts a lifetime. Whilst not encouraging promiscuity, let’s encourage responsible sex as opposed to unplanned children.