Why condom use has declined in Kenya

Thursday October 10 2019

Partner betrayal discourages adolescents from using contraceptives, a study has revealed.

The study done among unmarried youth, aged 15 to 24 years and living in Nairobi, revealed that 18 per cent of sexually active females reported that a partner removes a condom during sex while 35 per cent of males reported they agree to use a condom, but remove it during sex.
According to the study conducted by Performance Monitoring and Accountability and the International Centre for Reproductive Health Kenya (ICRHK), 18 per cent of the females reported pressure from a partner not to use birth control methods.

However, data presented last week by Prof Peter Gichangi, ICRHK Principal Investigator, revealed that condom coercion was one of the partner-related barriers to sexual reproductive health.

Due to this, the girls stand a higher risk of mistimed and unwanted pregnancies.

According to the (PMA) 2020 2018 survey, mistimed and unwanted pregnancies stand at 26 and 17 per cent respectively among women between 15 and 49 years.

Young women (15 and 24 years) have an even higher rate of mistimed pregnancies at 32 per cent and unwanted at 15 per cent compared to women in other age groups.



Every year, about 13,000 Kenyan girls drop out of school due to early pregnancy and 103 out of every 1,000 births in Kenya are delivered to girls aged 15 to 19.

Accidental pregnancy is a leading cause of abortion. However, contraceptive use remains low among the youth: 73 per cent of currently, sexually active single women aged 15 to 19 report not using any contraception.

Last year, Kenya recorded high cases of teenage pregnancies among students sitting Kenya Certificate of Primary Education and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education exams, forcing them to write their papers from hospitals after going into labour during the tests.

The data revealed that the male condom was the preferred method among the youth with 92 per cent usage. Female condom usage stood at 40 per cent.

Implant use among female adolescents stood at 20 per cent, followed by injectables at 12 per cent and emergency pill usage stood at 10 per cent.


“Condom is the most preferred method by both genders and if the other partner is removing it during sex, then they are betraying each other,” Prof Gichangi said.

He called for awareness on correct and consistent use of condoms as a contraceptive method among the youth.

As the world celebrates Contraception Day with a goal to ensure all pregnancies are wanted, the war might be jeopardised by Nairobi adolescents because of betrayal by partners.

“Young people should be aware of contraception and be able to make informed choices on their sexual and reproductive health,” he said.

The study was aimed at collecting information about awareness, use, and procurement of contraception among unmarried adolescents and youth, both female and male, and enable reach into a population that may, otherwise, not be catered for.

The study, which enrolled 1.354 female and male participants, revealed that 45 per cent of the youth in Nairobi are currently using contraceptives, 44 per cent are on modern contraceptives while 60 per cent have ever used a contraceptive.

Conducted between June and August 2019, it also revealed that 98 per cent have heard of at least one method of contraception, 89 per cent feel they can accept information about contraceptives while 84 per cent know of a place they can access contraceptives.


Data from Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS) 2014-2018 on teenage pregnancy prevalence shows that Narok tops the list with 40 per cent followed by Homa Bay County at 33 per cent.

West Pokot comes in third at 29 per cent, Tana River and Nyamira 28 per cent and Samburu with 26 per cent at the sixth position. Overall, the report established that teen pregnancy and motherhood rates in Kenya stand at 18 per cent.

About one in every five adolescent girls has either had a live birth or is pregnant with her first child.

However, contraceptive use among youth remains low with the known barriers to uptake including fear of the side effects, access to commodities, funding and partner approval.

According to the Global Childhood Report 2019, published by Save the Children, Kenya’s teenage birth rate in 2016 stood at 82 births per 1,000 girls aged 15 to 19.

At the same time, Kenya had one in eight (12 per cent) girls aged 15 to 19 getting married between 2013 to 2018.