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      Covert contraceptive use among women attending a reproductive health clinic in a municipality in Ghana

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          Covert contraceptive use (CCU) in sub-Saharan Africa is an indication of women’s inability to exercise autonomy in their reproductive choices. The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence and determinants of CCU among a sample of FP clients in a municipality of Ghana.


          We conducted a mixed method study among women attending a public reproductive health clinic in Sunyani, a city of over 250,000 inhabitants in Ghana. An initial survey inquired into sociodemographic characteristics, use of family planning (FP) methods and partner awareness of contraceptive use. The predictors of CCU were explored using logistic regressions. We used the findings to develop a guide which we applied in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with attendants at the same facility. Qualitative data analysis was conducted using a framework approach.


          We interviewed 300 women, 48 % of whom were aged between 26–33 years. The injectable was the most widely used method (56 %). The prevalence of CCU was 34 %. In multivariate analysis, single women were more likely to practice CCU than married or co-habiting women (Adjusted OR = 12.12, 95 % C.I. 4.73–31.1). Muslim and traditionalist women were similarly more likely to practice CCU than non-Muslim, non-traditionalist (Adjusted OR = 4.56, 2.29–9.06). Women who preferred to have their first or next child in 4 or more years from the time of the interview were more likely to be in CCU than women who intended to have children within 4 years of the interview (2.57; 1.37–4.83). Single women saw in covert use a statement of their social autonomy. To succeed in CCU, women wished that clinic attendance cards would not be given to them to keep at home. Though many participants saw in CCU a source of anxiety, they expected health workers to consider it and uphold confidentiality in the provision of services.


          Covert contraceptive use was high in this municipality and being single was the strongest predictor of the practice. Providers of FP services should reflect on how to adequately address the challenges faced by women who practice CCU.

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          Most cited references 43

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          The effect of power in sexual relationships on sexual and reproductive health: an examination of the evidence.

           Ann K. Blanc (2001)
          This article reviews what has been learned to date about the role of gender-based power in sexual relationships in determining sexual and reproductive health outcomes. A framework for assessing the relationship between power relations and reproductive health is outlined and measurement issues are critically discussed. A summary is included of the main types of intervention approaches that have been implemented, as are a discussion of the programmatic, methodological, and ethical implications of the findings and recommendations for further experimentation and research. Although many challenges remain, results to date suggest that when the role of gender-based power is made an integral feature of sexual and reproductive health programs, there is a considerable payoff for both women and men.
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            Women's empowerment and choice of contraceptive methods in selected African countries.

            It is generally believed that women's lack of decision-making power may restrict their use of modern contraceptives. However, few studies have examined the different dimensions of women's empowerment and contraceptive use in African countries. Data came from the latest round of Demographic and Health Surveys conducted between 2006 and 2008 in Namibia, Zambia, Ghana and Uganda. Responses from married or cohabiting women aged 15-49 were analyzed for six dimensions of empowerment and the current use of female-only methods or couple methods. Bivariate and multivariate multinomial regressions were used to identify associations between the empowerment dimensions and method use. Positive associations were found between the overall empowerment score and method use in all countries (relative risk ratios, 1.1-1.3). In multivariate analysis, household economic decision making was associated with the use of either female-only or couple methods (1.1 for all), as was agreement on fertility preferences (1.3-1.6) and the ability to negotiate sexual activity (1.1-1.2). In Namibia, women's negative attitudes toward domestic violence were correlated with the use of couple methods (1.1). Intervention programs aimed at increasing contraceptive use may need to involve different approaches, including promoting couples' discussion of fertility preferences and family planning, improving women's self-efficacy in negotiating sexual activity and increasing their economic independence.
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              Couples' Fertility and Contraceptive Decision-Making in Developing Countries: Hearing the Man's Voice


                Author and article information

                BMC Womens Health
                BMC Womens Health
                BMC Women's Health
                BioMed Central (London )
                6 June 2016
                6 June 2016
                : 16
                [ ]Epidemiology Unit, Ensign College of Public Health, Kpong, ER Ghana
                [ ]Faculty of Public Health and Allied Sciences, Catholic University College of Ghana, Fiapre, BAR Ghana
                [ ]Unit of HIV/AIDS Policy, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerpen, Belgium
                [ ]Municipal Health Directorate, Ghana Health Service, Sunyani, BAR Ghana
                [ ]Public Health Department, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium
                © Baiden et al. 2016

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                Research Article
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                © The Author(s) 2016

                Obstetrics & Gynecology

                ghana africa, covert, secret, contraceptive, method, family planning


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