Condom users in India are falling as use of women centric contraceptives has witnessed an increase in the last few years, latest government data on family planning shows.
The Health Ministry’s data on use of contraceptives in India shows that condoms users in India have declined dramatically in the last six years after a spurt for a few years.
In the same period, more women have opted for easier contraceptive options like pills and intra-urine device (IUD) to keep the family size under check.
“The new data shows that women are taking control of their lives and are making a choice about when they want the next child,” said Shailaja Chandra former chairperson of national Population Stabilisation Fund, a programme aimed at making contraceptives popular to reduce total fertility rate.
On the flip side, the data hints at equity in sex getting skewed.
“Women may be forced to take these contraceptives as men have a taboo against condoms,” said a ministry official, adding that the data indicates that government’s family planning programme was working as fertility rate was falling.
India’s fertility rate - number of children a woman bears during reproductive life - has come down from 3 in 2003 to 2.5 in 2011.
During this period, the number of condom users increased from around 1.8 crore in 2003 to 2.6 crore in 2007. The next four years saw a decline of around one crore condom users with a huge fall in states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.
But, the fall in condoms users did not have major implications for the country’s family planning programme as more women have turned decision-makers about their family expansion.
The availability of IUD also had its impact with around 16.6 crore women having insertions by 2011-12 as compared to around 12 crore in 2006, the data shows.
What had been gaining popularity among women, especially in rural India, were contraceptive pills. Around 8.4 crore women opted for pills in 2011 as compared to around 7 crore in 2006.
“Most women have realised that pills are a safer option for contraception than condoms,” said Dr Suneeta Mittal, head of Department of Gynaecology at Fortis Memorial Research Institute at Gurgaon.
“Pills help in the regulation of their menstrual cycle and also control infections. Pills may create complications for women who smoke and have liver problems,” she added.
The data also shows a decline in families accepting different family planning options from around 50 million in 2006-07 to 34.9 million in 2010-11.
“It is because of high penetration of permanent family planning options like sterilization in the last few years,” an official explained.