Guest post of the week: Contraceptive responsibility- Whose call is it?

By Ramya Abhinand

She looked weak and tired. Four deliveries and two abortions had reduced her to a mere frame.

Sangeetha has been my domestic help for three years now, and the least I could do was to offer her a

cup of hot “chai” and hear her out.

As we sat sipping, I delicately framed the questions. “Sangeetha, are you aware of contraceptive

options?” She looked up with a face of guilt. “Didi”, she spoke in chaste Haryanvi, “I do have the

monthly pills that are freely distributed at the charitable hospital. But they make me feel so groggy that I

am unable to do my daily chores. And besides I often forget to have them in the night.”

“Have you spoken to a doctor about it? I am sure there are other options”, I said. Sangeetha replied,

“The doctor suggests surgery but that’s possible only after six months. My blood pressure and HB count

are low at the moment”. I asked her, “What about your husband? He could opt for a surgery or for that

matter use protection”. Sangeetha shot back a surprised look. “You must be joking Didi. Why would a

man ever get an operation done and risk losing his Mardangi?  And besides he does not like the use of

protection. So he leaves it all to me.”

I met Rashmi at Starbucks. In a big city, such as Delhi, so caught up are we in our own lives that meetings

with old time friends are few and far between.

As we sat sipping the frothy coffee, I couldn’t help but notice the sullen eyes and the dark spotty

pigmentation on her skin. This wasn’t the same energetic woman I had known a few months back. I

casually remarked on the pigmentation I had noticed. “Oh well, these are just a few of the side effects of

the birth control pill I have daily. With two children to run behind, plus the pressures of my corporate

life, it is the easiest contraceptive option”, she said. Wouldn’t it be easier to opt for a surgery?

Considering it doesn’t come with these side effects”, I asked. Rashmi replied “I have considered the

option, but so occupied am I with work and kids that being hospitalized for 2-3 days for the procedure

seems impossible”.

“Well then Ajay could opt for a surgery. In that way, you could take care of the kids, manage home and

work too”, I said. She was quick to snap back, “You must be kidding right? When have men ever gone for

sterilization, (except for the forced program during emergency period)?”

“But what about protection? I am sure that shouldn’t be a problem for him. She said, “Ajay isn’t

comfortable. He goes by the popular thought, “Real men don’t use rubber!!!! So he leaves it all to me.

I sat on my bed that night thinking of my conversations with the two women. There seemed to be a

distinct similarity in both- of shouldering contraceptive responsibility in entirety. In a patriarchal society

such as ours, most women find it easier to pop a pill, rather than convince their partner to use

protection. Even if this means, infections and menstrual problems from usage of intra-uterine devices

or, mood swings, nausea, depression or weight gain from oral pills. With male sterilization, not being

well accepted in society, the no-scalpel vasectomy procedure is seldom opted for, though this procedure

is less invasive and less risky than the tubectomy. The tag of “Namarad” by society prevents many,

despite this not having even an aorta of truth.

Why are things so skewed up? From false ego, to lack of information and a strong prevalence of social

taboos, the reasons are plenty to prevent our men from being a part of contraceptive decisions.

Recently, laboratories on a global level have been innovating contraceptive pills for men. It could well

take a long time for this to see the light of the day. But when it does, would it be accepted with open

arms- the way women have taken to the pill?

I ponder on…

Ramya blogs at on about people and culture. I host a guest post on this blog every Monday. If you would like to contribute a guest post, do mail me at I welcome sharp, social commentary on issues relating to gender, humorous posts, parenting, fashion, beauty, environment, food, and basically everything except religion and politics.


6 thoughts on “Guest post of the week: Contraceptive responsibility- Whose call is it?

  1. Strange but true. That is what our society is. Education too failed to change the perception of the males towards women. Only thing that can bring the change in the scenario is the upbringing of the boys and the complete lookout of the mothers with a son.


  2. Absolutely men should step up. There are only so many things man can do with child-bearing, childbirth and all. Choosing contraceptive methods for himself, he can help the partner on so many levels. Great write up, Ramya.


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