Beliefs and misconceptions about types of contraceptives
Majority of adolescents were knowledgeable of various type of contraceptives and they correctly identified condoms, emergency and daily pills, implant, injection, withdrawal method, spermicide, intrauterine devices (IUD), sterilization and tubal ligation as modern methods of contraception. A few of them also mentioned total and periodic abstinence as contraceptive methods, and one person mentioned abortion as a method of contraception.
Nevertheless, there were numerous misconceptions about methods of contraception. Adolescents mentioned use of hard drugs, laxatives, white chlorine and boiled alcoholic beverage as emergency contraceptive methods. Some of the adolescents who had these misconceptions also described how these methods are used and their modes of action. For instance, with respect to boiled alcoholic beverages, their assumption was that absorption of alcoholic beverage through the intestine and into the bloodstream facilitates flushing of spermatozoa in urine from a girl who has just had sexual intercourse.
The following quotes highlight some correct notions and misconceptions about contraceptive methods. Some of these quotes also show the co-existence of correct and incorrect notions in the same individual.
“When we use condom is when a boy wants to have sexual intercourse with a girl, to prevent them from contracting any disease or for the girl not to become pregnant. Condom has advantages and disadvantages. If you don’t want to get pregnant after having sex you can take Andrew’s liver salt (laxative) and white chlorine Some people take drugs also” (Female Adolescent – ADABF_R1)
“Condom will help the boy that when he wants to release sperm, he will release it inside the condom. For those who do not use condoms, when the boy releases immediately inside the girl’s body, she should take Andrew’s liver salt (laxative) and urinate immediately, it will neutralize the sperm in the girl’s body” (Male Adolescent – ADABM)
“Some make use of hard drugs before sexual intercourse to prevent pregnancy. Pills are also used by the girls after having sexual intercourse” (Male Adolescent – ADAFM)
“Some girls prevent pregnancy by using small stout (alcoholic beverage). They boil the small stout and drink it hot, and it will flush away the pregnancy. The hot small stout will wash away the sperm from her womb, then she will urinate it out. Some normally use abortion to prevent pregnancy” (Male Adolescent – ADEZM)
“If you want to prevent pregnancy after sleeping with a man and you discover that you are pregnant, there is a drug the nurse normally gives” (Female Adolescent – ADABF_R4)
Beliefs and misconceptions about modes of action of contraceptive methods
Some adolescents were able to identify the modes of action of contraceptive methods while some were misinformed about their modes of action. Emergency pills were perceived to work by flushing away spermatozoa from a girl’s system after sexual intercourse, before fertilization takes place. Injectable hormonal contraceptives were perceived to work through blocking the uterus from getting impregnated. The following quotes highlight these misconceptions,
“….after having sex, the sperm that has been released by the male will wait for some hours before fertilization can take place. So after sex, she will take the pills and the pills will flush away the sperm” (Male Adolescent – ADAFM)
“For injections, if you inject the family planning drug, it will flow inside your body and go to block your womb so you cannot be impregnated by a man….” (Male Adolescent – ADEZM)
With respect to condoms, although most adolescents preferred it due to dual protection from pregnancy and STIs, male condoms were perceived to be potentially dangerous and life-threatening because they could break and enter into the body of the female sexual partner.
“...Condom is not good; when you use it, if care is not taken it will enter the body of the girl and it will make that person to die” (Female Adolescent – ADIKF_R10)
Beliefs and misconceptions about condom use
Many adolescents appeared to know that although not a hundred percent full proof, consistent use of condoms during sexual intercourse protects from unwanted pregnancy and STIs. However, there were some misconceptions about reusability of condoms and effect of condom use on sexual pleasure during intercourse
Beliefs about reusability of condoms
Misconceptions about reusability of condoms were found to prevail among male adolescents compared to females. Some adolescent boys had the notion that particular brands of male condoms could be washed and reused for up to two or three times before disposal.
“The use of condom can prevent pregnancy and diseases. It can be washed and used two times” (Male Adolescent – ADIZM_R3)
“We have soft condom that will not harm you and the person you're having sex with. That is the one you can use two or three times; after using it you wash it” (Male Adolescent – ADIZM_R12)
Beliefs about condom use and sexual pleasure
Notions about condom use and sexual pleasure appeared to vary for girls and boys. Some adolescent girls perceived that condom use during sex increases sexual pleasure because the assurance of being protected from STIs and pregnancy makes them better relaxed for pleasurable sex.
“The use of condom does not reduce pleasure, it improves pleasure because one feels protected.” (Female Adolescent – ADIZF)
“Use of condom makes it pleasurable because one feels relaxed with it. The sex is enjoyable because both parties know they are safe from contracting disease and the girl getting pregnant” (Female Adolescent – ADABF)
Adolescent boys had a different view from the girls. Although some of them recognized that condoms are useful for preventing pregnancy, they were of the opinion that it is more enjoyable having sexual intercourse without condoms because condoms interfere with the pleasure of direct ‘flesh to flesh’ contact.
“It (sex) is better flesh to flesh but the boy must be alert, he should make sure that he withdraws when he is about to release sperm." (Male Adolescent – ADAFM_R9)
“They (sexual partners) don't like using condoms because they won't enjoy it (sex).”(Male Adolescent – ADEZM)
“It is very good to use flesh to flesh because using condom during sex might not be sweet, but it is advisable to use condom to avoid bringing shame to parents” (Male Adolescent – ADAFM_R7)
Beliefs and misconceptions about contraceptive use and future fertility
Adolescents expressed their perceptions of how contraceptive use in adolescence affects fertility in future for both girls and boys. There was a general notion that contraceptive use in adolescence reduces fertility prospects for both sexes. Some were of the opinion that some girls who use contraceptives will be unable to get pregnant when they eventually get married and need to have children. Similarly, adolescent boys who use condoms were perceived to lose lots of spermatozoa and would be unable to impregnate a women in future. For the above reasons, some respondents stated that adolescents should not use contraceptives. Some supporting quotes are highlighted below,
“It is not advisable for adolescents to use contraceptives because some women cannot get pregnant these days, and it is the type of contraceptive used in the past that led to their infertility” (Male Adolescent – ADAFM_R7)
"...Condom is not good because boys lose the sperm, and when they are mature and married and want to impregnate their wives it will not function again" (Female Adolescent – ADIKF_R10)