There is an increasing number of women who choose intrauterine device (UID), popularly known as 'Loop' as one of their birth control methods in Botswana says the Ministry of Health's chief health officer, Veronica Leburu.
However, she advises that a Loop should always be used together with a condom to provide dual protection against pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.
This small flexible plastic frame with copper sleeves and coil around its vertical part is inserted in the woman's womb to prevent pregnancies for eight years, she explains. The device causes chemical changes that damages sperm and egg before they meet.
She says over the years women have opened up to the method, which is 97 to 99 percent effective. In 2008 the ministry issued Loops to 2,348 women nationwide and to 3,477 the following year.
"We are happy with these figures because as indicated they are expanding," she states. The ministry is still compiling figures of usage from the most recent years.
Leburu says the increase is a development that women are embracing the method. They have managed to change women's perceptions about the contraceptive since it was introduced in the country in the 1970s, she points out. "Education has been extensive. People have seen pictures of a Loop and are now more interested in it," she continues.
According to Leburu, women have also realised that there is less headache with the contraceptive, as they
"It is available to females of childbearing age which is 15 to 49 years according to international standards," Leburu notes.
Leburu says women have to be examined by trained personnel to see if they qualify to use the method. Women have to be examined for contra indicators, which may disqualify them for the method.
Women who have been found to have cervical cancer are not allowed to have it inserted, while women who have HIV but not AIDS can use it. A woman who has a record of regular sexually transmitted infections would also be denied the method, she says.
Should one accidentally get pregnant, the device is left in the womb as it gets closed in. "We leave it in and it will only come out during delivery. If the mother wants to continue using it they can consult with a doctor again after four weeks of delivery," she points out.
Like other contraceptives, a Loop is available in all government health facilities across the country, Leburu says.