Contraception and its myth
Being a modern woman in the 21st century, I faced many challenges in various aspects of education, family & career. Working as an obstetrician and gynaecologist in a busy university hospital, I have experienced numerous personal struggles in striking a balance between my ongoing educations, career pathways and raising a young family.
Pregnancy and parenthood is a beautiful journey and brings enormous joy to every couple. However, if a pregnancy occur at an un-timely period, it could potentially throws life into disarray causing unnecessary stress and challenge to a couple. Therefore, planning a pregnancy is very important especially in this modern era. The advent of contraceptive pills since 50 years ago had revolutionized the concept of family planning and empowers modern couples to take control of their fertility and pregnancy. It gives them the choice to decide on the timing of pregnancy and plan ahead to ensure that they can embark on the journey of pregnancy and parenthood at the most suitable time of their lives.
Contraceptive pill is an excellent choice of contraception as it is convenient, reliable and safe. Apart from being an effective means of contraception, contraceptive pills have many beneficial side effects which can significantly improve the quality of life of a woman. By taking contraceptive pills, women faced less undesirable body and emotional changes associated with menstruation such as premenstrual symptoms (PMS), painful menstruation (dysmenorrhoea) and heavy menses (menorrhagia). Contraceptive pills also have the benefit of regulating a woman’s menstrual cycle, improving the skin quality, reduces the risk of benign breast and ovarian cyst, and reduces the risk of ovarian and womb cancers in the long run.
However, there are still so many myths surrounding contraceptive pills amongst the society which inhibits the use of contraceptive pills as an effective means of contraception. Day and night, I have seen patients from various age groups who walked into my clinic requesting for termination of pregnancy as a mean of contraception. After lengthy counseling, most of these women, desperate and determined to get rid of their pregnancies, left my clinics and walked into the unknown darkness, seeking for termination of pregnancies elsewhere. And it crushed my heart to think of these women, vulnerable because of their circumstances, ended up at some secret places, mostly illegal and unsafe, to get rid of their own flesh and blood. I have also seen many women, who ended up at the hospital, almost losing their lives, after an unsafe abortion.
During the counseling, I always asked these women why they did not take precautions to prevent pregnancies. Many told me that their mothers or aunts or somebody they know said that contraceptive pills can cause cancers. They were also convinced that once one takes contraceptive pills, it will adversely affect their fertility in the future. Some even suggested that contraceptive pills are toxic to the body. However, none of them realized that having a termination of pregnancy have more immediate and long term side effects which can adversely affect their health and future pregnancies. Some even lost their lives during or after a termination of pregnancy.
So, as a gynaecologist and an educator, I always ask myself: what is my role in this circumstance. How do I get to the root of the problem without ruffling too many feathers along the way? There were so many controversies surrounding the introduction of the topic of contraception into our sex education programme. Then, where do we start? How do we reach out to the women in various age groups, education background, socioeconomic status and different ethnicity and religions?
I believe that we are all responsible in playing our parts in this matter. As a gynaecologist, my role is to educate the general public on the various issues surrounding contraception and to rectify the misconceptions and myths. Therefore I jumped at the chance when I was invited to write something on this platform about contraception. Although this effort may be small in comparable to all the wonderful things that our activists from the Non-government Organizations have done to advocate the women’s right in sex education & contraception, I sincerely hope that this small contribution can make some differences. Some information about contraception can also be found on the platform written by myself and my colleagues at www.pitterpatter.com.my.
Let us make contraception a valid and conscious choice for all.