24 November 2010
By Revathi Ramanan
Family welfare statistics for 2009, released by the ministry of health and family welfare, put Andhra at the bottom of the list on Condom use among married couples, with only 0.5% using them. Karnataka comes next with 1.7%, followed by Tamil Nadu, with 2.3% Condom users.
Delhi tops the charts, with a whopping 22.9% of its couples using condoms–more than four times the national average of 5.2%. Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh follow, with 15.5%, 11.8% and 8.6% of couples using them.
In the south, the most preferred method of contraception is female sterilization followed by IUD (intrauterine device). Although these states fare poorly in terms of Condom use, they rank the highest when it comes to female sterilization and use of IUDs. In fact, AP tops the list, with almost 63% women undergoing sterilization, followed by Karnataka (57.4%) and Tamil Nadu (55%).
This could also mean that men make the contraception decision, often asking women to undergo sterilization. Condoms not always the best choice: Experts W hile using Condom is considered a safe sex practice, preventing not just pregnancy but sexually transmitted diseases as well, experts say other methods of contraception are often better, considering that the statistics are only about married couples.
Says V M Katoch, director general of the Indian Council of Medical Research and secretary, department of health research, "This is an interesting trend. As more people in the south use permanent sterilization methods, it shows that they are making an intelligent decision when it comes to having children. That said, condoms could help prevent reproductive tract infections even in monogamous couples.’’
"I think birth control pills and IUDs are better methods of contraception than condoms. Since women in South know more about them, they want to try them out,’’ says Dr Priya Selvaraj, a Chennai–based obstetrician and gynaecologist.
The failure rate of condoms is cited as one of the reasons for its low use. "Condoms could fail. Also, the couple need to use condoms every time they have intercourse, unlike an IUD where the device can be inserted and forgotten for five years.
Condoms are good when trying to prevent HIV and STD, but for monogamous couples, Condom may not be the best option,’’ says Dr R V Thenmozhi, gynaecologist at Fortis Malar, Chennai. "In south, women prefer semi–permanent and permanent methods of contraception. We’ve been raising awareness about the use of condoms, and the number of people using them is rising. It will take some time to see big results,’’ said TN health secretary V K Subburaj.