Misconceptions cause a decline in number of Indian men opting for sterilization, rural women gain upper hand over urban women

Incredible as it may sound, Indian men prefer to stay away from sterilisation, forcing their better halves to go for it and adopt other methods of family planning.

Published: 04th March 2017 10:32 PM  |   Last Updated: 04th March 2017 10:33 PM   |  A+A-

Image for representational purpose only

Express News Service

BHUBANESWAR: Incredible as it may sound, Indian men prefer to stay away from sterilisation, forcing their better halves to go for it and adopt other methods of family planning.

As per the latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) report, male sterilisation in the country reduced to 0.3 per cent in 2015-16 from one per cent in 2005-06 (NFHS-3). There has only been a 0.4 per cent rise of condom use in the last ten years.

More literate states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra have recorded a low percentage of male sterilisation as compared to others. Maharashtra has seen a drastic fall from 2.1 per cent in 2005-06 to 0.4 in 2015-16.

States like Tamil Nadu and Bihar have registered zero male sterilisation while only 0.1 per cent people in Gujarat, Kerala, West Bengal and Karnataka have adopted the surgery. National Capital Territory of Delhi, Odisha and Jharkhand have recorded 0.2 per cent.

Female sterilisation too has seen a declining trend with 36 per cent as against 37.3 per cent a decade ago. As many as 68.3 per cent women in Andhra Pradesh have gone for nasbandi (sterilisation) which is the highest in India, followed by 49.4 per cent in Tamil Nadu. There has been a 10 per cent fall in Karnataka which has recorded 48.6 per cent against 57.4 ten years ago.

While men in both rural and urban India share almost equal number of sterilisation figures, the percentage of female sterilisation is higher in rural pockets than urban areas. About 35.7 per cent women in urban India have adopted sterilisation methods for family planning as against 36.1 per cent in rural India. This means females exposed to modernity are more reluctant for sterilisation, which has better adaptability in villages.

There was a lukewarm response for both male and female sterilisation and use of contraceptives in states like Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland. Surprisingly, the other three states of the Seven Sisters, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam are among the top-five states where the use of female contraceptive pills is high. Tripura, in fact, tops the list with 26.3 per cent followed by Assam 22 per cent, West Bengal 11.7 and Arunachal Pradesh 10.2 per cent.

Health experts, however, blame the mindset of the men for not favouring sterilisation and preferring other methods for birth control. Men stay away from sterilisation due to some misconceptions like decrease in libido and losing the ability to have a satisfying sex life.

Former Director of Health Services (Odisha) Dr Seba Mohapatra said the acceptance of male oriented contraceptive surgery is generally negligible due to misconceptions.

“Even as vasectomy is a minor surgical procedure, safest and most effective permanent birth control measure, men always try to get rid of it and force women to go for tubectomy,” she observed and stressed on frequent awareness campaigns, which are needed to change misconceptions.

Apart from the social stigma, the inadequacy of trained medical practitioners who perform non-scalpel vasectomies has been one of the reasons behind the unacceptability of this family planning surgery, Dr Mohapatra added.

Not only adoption of sterilisation, but the use of other contraceptive methods by both the sexes is not encouraging either. As per NFHS-4, while only 5.6 per cent men used condoms, 4.1 per cent women consumed contraceptive pills. The figure was 5.2 per cent and 3.1 per cent respectively during 2005-06.

The percentage of urban people using condoms is higher than in rural parts. While nine per cent men in urban India use condoms, it is only 3.9 per cent in rural India. But in case of pills, rural India has recorded a high percentage with about 4.3 per cent women in villages consuming pills compared to 3.5 per cent in urban areas.

India was the first country in the world to launch a family planning programme in 1952. For decades, female sterilisation has been the main form of family planning and it accounts for around 65 per cent of contraceptive use, significantly higher globally.

President of Family Planning Association of India (FPAI) Umesh Aradhya said there should be multiple contraceptive choices for men and women by introducing more modern methods. “Male sterilisation needs to be increased. It is not just about controlling population, but it will save the lives of tens of thousands of women annually. More people should be included in the programme by counselling and creating awareness on its positive impacts and making more budgetary allocations,” said Umesh Aradhya.

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