Exploring contraception myths and misconceptions among young men and women in Kwale County, Kenya
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Background: Myths and misconceptions around modern contraceptives have been associated with low contraceptive uptake in sub-Saharan Africa and Kenya in particular. Addressing persistent contraceptive knowledge gaps can make a significant contribution towards improved contraceptive uptake among young women. This qualitative study therefore sought to explore and understand young people’s knowledge of modern contraception and to identify their key concerns regarding these methods. Methods: We used focus group discussions (FGD) with vignette and writing activities to explore key myths and misconceptions around the use of contraceptives. Six FGDs (three for young men and three for young women) were conducted with a total of 28 young women and 30 young men from Kwale County, Kenya. We included 10 discussants aged 18–24 per FGD, one FGD had 8 participants. Predefined codes reflecting the discussion guides and emerging issues in the FGDs were used to develop the thematic coding framework. Our analysis followed a pattern of association on the key preset themes focusing on myths and misconceptions around contraceptive use. Results: Results are presented under four key themes: awareness of contraception, myths and misconceptions around contraception, males’ contraceptive narratives and young people’s preferred sources of contraceptives. Both men and women participants reported basic awareness of contraceptives. A mixture of biological and social misconceptions were discussed and included perceptions that modern contraception: jeopardized future fertility, could result in problems conceiving or birth defects, made women promiscuous, was ‘un-African’, and would deny couples their sexual freedom. Compared to female respondents in the study, young men appeared to be strong believers of the perceived socio-cultural effects of contraceptives. On preferred sources of contraceptives, respondents reported on two main sources, pharmacies and public hospitals, however, they could not agree on which one was suitable for them.