One in three Filipinas still rely on natural contraception methods: study

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 9) - One in every three Filipino women who used contraceptives relied on rhythm and withdrawal over modern artificial contraceptive methods, a study said.

"Even if modern birth control methods were the most prevalent across all survey periods, the use of traditional methods accounted for nearly one-third of contraceptive use from 2003 to 2013," said the University of  the Philippines' Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) Working Paper "Ten Years of Traditional Contraceptive Method Use in the Philippines: Continuity and Change."

News of the study was published on the university's website on August 8.

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The study analyzed some 11,815 cases of women who used a form of contraception from 2003 to 2013. "In all survey years, use of withdrawal was more prevalent than the rhythm method," said the paper's authors, Maria Paz N. Marquez, Maria Midea M. Kabamalan, and Elma P. Laguna.

More kids, please

The study found that the purpose of rhythm and withdrawal methods were for spacing the births of their children rather than curbing them. "The use of less effective traditional contraceptive methods suggests that women are open to the possibility of having additional children, or that they have a fatalistic attitude toward childbearing or may view traditional methods as 'better than nothing,'" the authors said.

The Philippines has a population of nearly 101 million as of 2015, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.

A lack of knowledge and fear of perceived side effects of modern artificial contraception methods such as the pill, intra-uterine devices, condoms, and female and male sterilization, were the reasons Filipino women or couples were reluctant to use them.

Women instead found "relative ease in adopting traditional contraceptive methods" such as withdrawal and rhythm method, it added. The rhythm method works best among women who have regular menstrual cycles and it involves abstaining from sex during a woman's fertile days.

Facebook for family planning

The paper suggests that family planning efforts utilize social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, to promote, educate, and dispel women's fears on the use of modern contraceptive methods.

The Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 guarantees access to methods on contraception, both natural and artificial, along with fertility control, sexual education, and maternal care. Its full implementation has been sidelined by a temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court on some artificial contraceptives which a pro-life group considers abortifacient.

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The paper added that more research needs to be done on the behavior of men towards contraceptives.

It did not dismiss the importance of the rhythm method, but emphasized that women had to be better taught about their fertility cycle to make it a more effective form of natural birth control.