Uptake of Permanent Contraception Among Women in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Literature Review of Barriers and Facilitators

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Objective: Uptake of permanent contraception among women remains low in sub-Saharan Africa compared to other regions. We aimed to synthesize available evidence on barriers to, and facilitators of permanent contraception with regards to tubal ligation among women in sub-Saharan Africa. Study Design: We reviewed literature on tubal ligation among African women published between January 1, 2000 and October 30, 2017. We searched PubMed, Global health, EMBASE, Web of science, and Google scholar for quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods studies which reported on barriers and/or facilitators to uptake of tubal ligation in sub-Saharan Africa. Finally, we conducted a narrative synthesis and categorized our findings using a framework based on the social ecological model. Results: We included 48 articles in the review. Identified barriers to tubal ligation among women included individual-level (myths and misconceptions, fear of surgery, irreversibility of procedure, religious beliefs), interpersonal-level (male partner disapproval), and organizational-level (lack of healthcare worker expertise and equipment) factors. Facilitating factors included achievement of desired family size and perceived effectiveness (individual-level), supportive male partners and knowing other women with permanent contraception experience (interpersonal-level), and finally, subsidized cost of the procedure and task-sharing with lower cadre healthcare workers (organizational-level). Conclusions: Barriers to, and facilitators of permanent contraception among women in sub-Saharan Africa are multilevel in nature. Strategies countering these barriers should be prioritized, as effective contraception can promote women’s health and economic development in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition to these strategies, more quantitative research is needed to further understand patient-level factors associated with uptake of permanent contraception among women.


Contraception; Contraception behavior; Tubal ligation; Female sterilization; Sub-Saharan Africa


International Public Health | Women's Health



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