Mumbai/New Delhi: Most adults in India today are aware of contraceptive methods but not all of them are fully informed about how contraceptives work, or when the likelihood of pregnancy tends to be higher, according to data from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS), a large-scale nationally representative survey conducted in 2015-16.
Among the different methods of contraception, the pill is the one that most women (85%) were aware of. Awareness about the male condom was slightly lower (79%). Among men, most were aware of the male condom (94%) followed by the pill (81%). Awareness about the female condom was the lowest among both men and women.
Awareness of contraceptive methods is almost universal in India, with 99% of married women and men aged 15-49 knowing at least one method of contraception.
The NFHS data on sexual awareness is based on a sample of more than 100,000 men and 700,000 women. Less than 1% of the respondents reported using the emergency contraceptive pill although the proportion of users is slightly higher among younger women. Nearly half the respondents said they are aware of emergency contraception.
Most women said that contraception is a joint decision. Less than one in 10 women reported the husband being the key decision-maker in contraception-related matters.
The data on male responses paints a different picture. More than a third of the men felt that contraception is a “woman’s business" and that a man should not have to worry about it. More than a fifth felt that women who use contraception may become promiscuous.
Roughly three-fourths of women felt that it is right for them to refuse sex with their partners if their partners had a sexually transmitted disease (STD), had cheated on them, or if they were not in the mood. These questions elicited similar responses among men, the data show. More than 70% of men said it is right for their partners to refuse sex if they had a STD, cheated on them, or if their partners were not in the mood.
Both men and women seem to be under-informed about the ovulatory cycle, the survey data shows. When asked when a woman is most likely to get pregnant, most could not answer correctly. Although educated men and women are better-informed compared to their peers, even among the educated, the ignorant outnumber the well-informed.
The data shows six in 10 men believed that a male condom, if used properly, prevents conception “most of the time". A quarter of male respondents believed it works “sometimes", while more than one in 10 men didn’t know or were unsure whether it worked or not.
This is the second of a two-part series on sexual relations and sexual awareness among Indians. Tap to read the first part: ‘Sex in India: What data shows’