High Prevalence of Traditional Methods and Low Fertility: Factors Affecting Choice of Traditional Methods in Urban West Bengal, India

Sharmishtha Basu, basu_jnu@yahoo.com, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Although urban women in West Bengal, India want fewer children, they often rely on traditional methods of contraception (periodic abstinence and withdrawal). This is neither propelled by religious restrictions nor by an aggressive family planning program. This paper looks at the predictors for use of traditional methods and the reasons for this choice among women who have ready access to family planning programs propagating modern methods only. The study is based on DHS data for urban West Bengal complemented with an investigation using a qualitative approach. Education and standard of living significantly affects traditional methods use. In urban areas, withdrawal preference is related to husbands' preference to use withdrawal and wives' fear of side-effects of modern methods. Only 18.5% of women using the "rhythm method" have accurate knowledge about their fertile period. Risk of unintended pregnancy and program implications are discussed.

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Presented in Session 182: Methods of Contraception: Some Interesting Trends and Differentials