The question of birth control is a contentious one especially on the continent owing to cultural and religious persuasions. The burden of birth control is primarily carried by women. Most times, the responsibility on which birth control method to use is not the concern of men, and this brings out an imbalance and unfairness on  sex and reproductive issues.

Women usually have to take the initiative of choosing the particular birth control method, while men take on the passive role on the issue.

Read: Male birth control: can it work in Africa?

The number of options of birth control methods for men is fewer than that of women, and many men aren’t proactive in dealing with birth control issues, whereas for women, since society puts more pressure on them, they have to find ways to control or stop pregnancy.

Birth control was still a taboo subject before the 1960s. “The pill” seemed an ideal contraceptive because it was effective, not messy, and did not interfere with sex. The oral contraceptive pill also empowered women to take greater control of contraception. However, the first pills had a far higher level of hormones than required. This caused heart problems in some women. Later pills rectified this. “The pill”; is still prescribed worldwide. Photo: Wiki commons

Besides the use of condoms, which is still a big issue for many men to consistently use, other birth control methods are hardly explored. Vasectomy for men on the continent is still very under-explored.  In an article titled Myths and misconceptions stop African men for going for a vasectomy published in the Conversation it said, “There is a knowledge gap about the vasectomy procedure as a family planning method in several African countries. Only 38% of women and 48% of men in Kenya knew of a vasectomy for family planning. In Nigeria this figure dropped to only 16% of married women and 27% of men identified. In Liberia, this figure stood at 20% for both married women and men.”

Many men opt for withdrawal method, which in most cases fails as the pull-out game could end in ejaculation into the woman, defeating the purpose of birth control. In a country such as Nigeria for example, where the population of the country currently stands at 192 million, and has been projected to surpass the population of the U.S. in 2050 the need for education on birth control can not be more relevant.

Of the over 20 birth control options ranging from abstinence, pills, condom, spermicide, vasectomy, pull-out method, outercourse, diaphragm, amongst others, many of these methods place emphasis on the body of the woman thus making women the focus and sole agent in birth control.

In a report by the Guardian, short-term and reversible methods of contraceptives are most used in Africa. The pill and injectables are the most popular. Africa has the lowest use of male condoms.

Read: The question of population increase and economic growth in Africa: World Population Day

The view of controlling birth on the African continent is one that still experiences some cultural and religious pushback. At a point, the ego of a man is tied to his ability to produce children, especially within the context of marriage. This is also backed up with the situation of polygamy in the African context, where one man, one wife doesn’t necessarily work despite the infusion of Christianity.