“If I use family planning, I may have trouble getting pregnant next time I want to”: A multicountry survey-based exploration of perceived contraceptive-induced fertility impairment and its relationship to contraceptive behaviors

Elsevier, Contraception: X, Volume 5, January 2023
Bell S.O., Karp C., Moreau C., Gemmill A.

Objectives: We aim to assess women's perceptions regarding contraceptive effects on fertility across a diversity of settings in sub-Saharan Africa and how they vary by women's characteristics. We also aim to examine how such beliefs relate to women's contraceptive practices and intentions. Study design: This study uses cross-sectional survey data among women aged 15 to 49 in nine sub-Saharan African geographies from the Performance Monitoring for Action project. Our main measure of interest assessed women's perceptions of contraceptive-induced fertility impairment. We examined factors related to this belief and explored the association between perceptions of contraceptive-induced fertility impairment and use of medicalized contraception (intrauterine device, implant, injectable, pills, emergency contraception) and intention to use contraception (among nonusers). Results: Between 20% and 40% of women across study sites agreed or strongly agreed that contraception would lead to later difficulties becoming pregnant. Women at risk of an unintended pregnancy who believed contraception could cause fertility impairment had reduced odds of using medicalized contraception in five sites; aORs ranged from 0.07 to 0.62. Likewise, contraceptive nonusers who wanted a/another child and perceived contraception could cause fertility impairment were less likely to intend to use contraception in seven sites, with aORs between 0.34 and 0.66. Conclusions: Our multicountry study findings indicate women's perception of contraceptive-induced fertility impairment is common across diverse sub-Saharan African settings, likely acting as a deterrent to using medicalized contraceptive methods. Implications: Findings from this study can help improve reproductive health programs by addressing concerns about contraception to help women achieve their reproductive goals.