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Contraception: It's Not Magic, It's Science

Contraception in the Philippines

By Angelica Louisse NazarioPublished about a month ago 3 min read
courtesy of Human Life Inernational

In a society deeply rooted in traditional beliefs, conversations about sex education are often met with hushed whispers and avoidance. As a young college student navigating the complexities of adulthood in the Philippines, I have noticed a palpable absence of discussions surrounding sexual health both within academic settings and social circles. This silence, heavy and all-encompassing, speaks volumes about the pervasive knowledge gaps and limited access to reproductive healthcare, particularly when it comes to contraceptives. The taboo surrounding the topic is like an invisible forcefield shielding it from open dialogue, leaving many young adults ill-equipped to make informed decisions about their own bodies and well-being.

During my recent visit to Manila's renowned public hospital, the Philippine General Hospital, I was immediately struck by the comparison between the long line for OB-GYN check-ups and the near-empty waiting room of the planned parenthood clinic. Intrigued by this contrast, I tried interviewing some patients and discovered deeply ingrained misconceptions about contraceptives. Some expressed fear of severe health consequences, while others mistakenly believed that contraceptives were only meant for women who had already given birth. The prevailing notion that contraceptives were unnecessary for those who had yet to start a family highlighted the alarming lack of knowledge among Filipino women.

As my curiosity was piqued, I discreetly brought up the topic with female friends and colleagues, hoping to gain some insight. To my surprise, I found widespread ignorance about the various contraceptive options available. The prevalent attitude of relying on luck or chance, commonly referred to as "leaving it up to fate," left me stunned. It was especially concerning considering that contraceptives are readily available at public health clinics in the country - a fact seemingly overlooked by many.

The Philippines stands at a critical juncture - societal norms shifting and younger generations embracing greater freedoms. However, alongside changes in relationship dynamics - exemplified by the rise of "situationships" among Gen Z and beyond - there is an urgent need to destigmatize and normalize discussions around contraception. With every passing day, it becomes increasingly clear that open conversations about this topic are necessary for promoting safe and responsible choices, as well as empowering individuals to take control of their own reproductive health.

There are an array of contraceptives available for women. Each woman has unique needs and may have incompatibilities with certain types, making it vital to possess knowledge about all the choices. From tiny, long-lasting implants that can prevent pregnancy for up to 3 years, to tried-and-true methods like condoms, injectables, IUDs, pills, and vaginal rings. It's important to note that being on a contraceptive does not automatically mean experiencing detrimental side effects. The key is finding the right method for you and your body. This can be achieved by consulting with your doctor first and discussing your individual needs and concerns. By doing so, you can ensure safe and effective contraception while taking care of your overall health and well-being. The journey towards finding the perfect contraceptive is a personal one, but with the help of a trusted healthcare professional, it can lead to a happier, healthier life.

Globally, nearly half of all pregnancies are unintended, representing a significant crisis with far-reaching implications. The recent 2022 State of World Population Report by the UNFPA sheds light on the magnitude of this issue, revealing alarming statistics for the Philippines. Shockingly, between 2004 and 2020, 36 out of every 1,000 Filipino girls aged 15 to 19 had already given birth, while 6% of women experienced intimate partner violence in 2017.

Furthermore, between 2015 and 2019, 71 out of every 1,000 women aged 15 to 49 experienced unintended pregnancies, ranking the Philippines 56th out of 150 countries for the number of unintended pregnancies annually. Startlingly, over half - 51% - of all pregnancies in the country are unintended, mirroring the global average. These statistics highlight the urgent need for comprehensive sex education and accessible contraceptive services.

Despite laws such as the Reproductive Health Law (Republic Act №10354) guaranteeing access to sexual and reproductive healthcare, information, and education, there is still much work to be done. The Philippines must address the multifaceted layers of this issue to ensure that every pregnancy is desired. While Executive Order №141 addresses the root causes of adolescent pregnancy, it serves only as a starting point. It will take concerted efforts from policymakers, civic leaders, and society as a whole to make progress.

Contraception is not magic; it's rooted in science. It's crucial to debunk false beliefs, educate individuals, and give them the tools to make confident choices about their reproductive health. It is high time to break the taboo surrounding contraceptive use and empower women with knowledge that can transform their lives. With any luck, sex education will also become a fundamental part of college and high school curriculums in the future, further promoting open and informed discussions about reproductive health.

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