Myths, Misconceptions, Missed Opportunity: How Mistaken Beliefs and Lack of Knowledge Limit Family Planning Use in a Rural Indian Village

Mary Ann Kirkconnell-Hall, Emory University

Though family planning services are provided at minimal cost to Indian women, most opt for sterilization when desired family size is reached. Little is known about the reasons women are reluctant to use other temporary methods despite positive attitudes towards contraception. This study attempts to addresses the question in a small coastal village in western India. Married women of reproductive age and older were interviewed in six focus groups (n=60) and individually (n=14) using a qualitative question guide regarding family planning methods, use, and side effects. Misinformation regarding contraceptive mechanisms and side effects are the primary cause of family planning service underutilization. Economic migration of village men also limits perceived need for temporary methods. Trained village women who are knowledgeable can effectively disseminate family planning information. Targeted educational efforts for villagers and structured counseling at or before service delivery are recommended to give women the knowledge to make informed decisions.

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Presented in Session 66: Contraception