Myths and misconceptions as well as shame and stigma are still among the reasons some women do not use modern contraceptives, according to the Commission on Population and Development (CPD).
This has led to not just the rising pregnancies among 10 to 14 year olds, but also repeat pregnancies among 10 to 19 year olds. Repeat pregnancies account for 17 percent of births among 10 to 19 year olds. This, CPD said, was due in part to their lack of information and access to contraception.
Citing data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), CPD said there were 26,099 live births in 2020 and 23,226 in 2021 among 10 to 19 year olds. At 17 percent, a total of 4,437 births were repeat pregnancies in 2020 and 3,948 in 2021 of adolescents aged 10 to 19 years old.
“Many of these women are still not choosing modern contraception due to numerous access barriers. These range from lack of awareness and affordability to limitations based on age or marital status, while shame, stigma, fear, poverty, gender inequality and many other factors undermine women and girls’ ability to exercise choice and to seek and obtain contraceptives. Persisting myths and misperceptions about modern contraception are also barriers to using contraceptives,” CPD said in a statement.
CPD Executive Director Lisa Grace S. Bersales said the most recent National Demographic and Health Survey in 2022, where most Filipino married women 15 to 49 years old are using modern contraceptive methods at 41.8 percent, with the pill as the most preferred at 19.8 percent.
The agency said this highlights the urgency to continue addressing the reproductive rights and empowerment of young people to make informed choices and decisions.
This is also being emphasized by this year’s World Contraception Day (WCD) theme “Your Life Your Choice,” which is endorsed by over a dozen international organizations with a common interest in advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people worldwide.
Bersales said collaborations with allied partners such as Bayer Philippines, the FORUM and other similar-minded groups are crucial in enabling Filipinos to enjoy their rights to family planning and contraception.
“CPD recognizes and upholds the inherent rights of every Filipino to make informed decisions regarding family planning and contraception. This year’s WCD themes of ‘Your Life, Your Choice’ and locally: ‘Usap Tayo sa Family Planning,’ capture the essence of exercising those rights, which aim to ultimately benefit Filipino women and young girls into enjoying their full potential and capacities as contributors to the country’s human capital development.”
Complementing the upcoming World Contraception Day, Bayer also launched Bayer For Her: Conversations of Care in the Philippines last August 30, opening an initial series of free pop-up consultation clinics over the next two months at selected partner drug stores to encourage more women seek out expert advice on reproductive health.
These pop-up clinics aim to help create safe spaces for women to speak up and normalize conversations about their reproductive health concerns, address common misconceptions and the barriers why they do not consult with their doctors, and get the support they need.
Bayer For Her was originally launched in Thailand and has since grown into a movement spanning across the region, covering Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam.
The program is also a call to action for women in Asia to share #ConversationsofCare about their own health issues, ranging from contraception to endometriosis and menstrual pain or heavy menstrual bleeding, and talk to a healthcare professional about them.
The social stigma women face at home and in the workplace often result in a lot of stress and shame. ‘Bayer For Her’ advocates for women to find their best avenues to reach out to healthcare professionals, friends and family and not suffer in silence.
“We’ve had a lot of progress over the years in increasing access to modern contraception,” says Angel-Michael Evangelista, Managing Director and Country Division Head of Pharmaceuticals, Bayer Philippines, “but we still need to continue providing young people with access to accurate, expert information on reproductive health and contraception. This is why we are partnering with the CPD and The FORUM to enable more young people to make their own informed decisions and choices.”