Contraception: Your body, your choice

While contraceptives are a helpful and important part of a lot of young women’s reproductive lives, it’s not uncommon for women to be pressured into using them. As a woman, the decision to use any kind of hormonal contraceptive is yours to make and you shouldn’t be pressured by a partner, friend or family member to do so – here’s why.

Agency over your body

Your body and health are your responsibility, which is why it’s important for you to prioritise them. This means that the only person who has the right to make decisions affecting your health, is you. While it is important to have conversations about contraceptives with your partner, the decision to take them is yours to make. A partner who cares about your wellbeing, will not pressure you into using hormonal contraceptives against your will, but will take the necessary measures to prevent unwanted pregnancy and STI transmission by using a condom

Know your rights

The legal age of consent for sexual reproductive medical help is 12 years old, which means that you are able to start thinking about the kind of preventative measures you would like to take from that age. However, this does not mean that you should rush into it. Instead  ask your  healthcare practitioner for advice on reproductive health and contraceptives. You can also ask me for advice.

Know your options

An empowered woman is an educated one. Make sure you get as much information as you can on the different types of contraceptive methods and their side effects so that you can make the best decision for you.

Different contraceptives have different effects on your weight, emotions and your period and this differs from person to person These effects can be mild or severe depending on your body’s reaction, which is why it’s imperative that you do your research and know what to expect.

Get clued up

It’s important to know how different contraceptives work. For example, some are longterm methods, while others are short-term; some prevent ovulation, and others create a barrier so that sperm cannot reach and fertilise your egg.

Emergency contraceptives (the morning after pill) are NOT meant to be used frequently and shouldn’t be your go-to form of contraceptive as they can have longterm negative effects on your reproductive system. The morning after pill is only supposed to be used as a last resort in emergency situations and it’s important to let your partner know about this so that you can make safer contraceptive choices.

Dealing with pressure

Feeling pressured to use hormonal contraceptives by family, your partner or even friends can be difficult to deal with, but it’s important to always put your health first. While contraceptives can protect you from unwanted pregnancy, they don’t ensure protection from STIs or HIV, which means that it’s important to still use a condom every time you have sex. Your partner does not have the right to ask you to use contraceptives to avoid using condoms, Choma, and someone who cares about you won’t try to pressure into making uncomfortable decisions about your body.

Ask questions

In order to get all the info you need regarding your reproductive rights as well as how different contraceptives work, you can speak to a healthcare practitioner at your local clinic, read up on some of my articles on contraceptives, or ask me a question. Remember to take your time when doing your research – there’s no rush.

Choosing to use a contraceptive method should be your choice. You deserve to be in control of your body and to have all the necessary information on all your contraceptive options before making a choice so that you can be comfortable and prepared. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a partner who puts pressure on you to have sex or to use contraceptives if you’re not ready to.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Messagea Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).