Husbands’ concerns and experiences with the progesterone vaginal ring in three sub-Saharan African countries: A mixed methods study

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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The introduction of progesterone vaginal ring (PVR) in sub-Saharan Africa calls for insights on the product’s role in promoting women’s autonomy regarding their reproductive decision-making and behaviour. Such insights could inform the positioning of the method within family planning programmes in the region. In this paper, we explore husbands’ experiences with PVR as perceived by their wives and as reported by husbands of a subset of women users in Kenya, Nigeria, and Senegal. We discuss how such experiences might influence women’s rights and autonomy regarding their reproductive decisions and contraceptive behaviour. We use a mixed-methods approach drawing on data from quantitative interviews with 174 women and qualitative in-depth interviews with 10 husbands of a subset of the women in the three countries. The findings show that husbands appreciated PVR’s attributes relating to user-control (women could insert and remove the method themselves), ease of use, and non-interference with sex and flow of breast milk. Wives’ perceptions of their husbands’ experiences regarding PVR’s non-interference with sex were consistent with the husbands’ own reports. In addition, health care providers played important roles in supporting sustainable use of the method through giving information, counselling, and assisting women who experienced ring slippage to manage those challenges. The findings suggest that self-managed health technologies such as PVR could expand women’s choices and control over their reproductive decisions. The findings further suggest that sustainable use of such products could require linkages with appropriate health systems structures to address challenges with use if and when they arise.