Manori K Weeratunga & Lakshman Dissanayake
Most women in the later years of childbearing age seem to believe that they are at a minimum risk of conception because of infrequent sex, and the conviction that they are infertile during those years. However, as they remain to be sexually active, they have the potential of becoming pregnant. This is possible despite the decline in fecundity women experience as they gradually reach the age of menopause. The objective of this study is to analyze the contraceptive behaviour of older women in Sri Lanka as there are no studies available on this topic. Most studies have concentrated on the fertility and contraceptive behaviour of younger women in the reproductive age. With the use of the latest Demographic and Heath Survey (DHS) 2016 data, the study revealed that a significant proportion of women of 40 years and above are in parity of 4 and above, although the fertility norm of this cohort was 2 to 3. This is an implicit indication of the failure in the use of contraceptives. When the use of contraceptives was investigated, it was found that the majority of women use modern methods. Binary Logistic Regression performed in this study exhibited that women’s employment and the number of children ever born were some of the main factors influencing the use of modern contraceptives by older women. The study also analyzed the data on contraceptive usage among older women and found that a substantial proportion of women do not use any family planning methods. Infrequent sex and health concerns regarding Family Planning (FP) methods were stated by a significant proportion of women as reasons for not using any contraceptive methods. One of the most important factors to consider is that there is no unmet need for family planning for older women in the reproductive age span, which means that there are no programme defects. However, the study showed that older women in the reproductive age span have been neglecting the use of family planning methods because of the conviction that they will not become pregnant.
Keywords: contraceptive usage, older women, parity, reproductive age span