Background: The levonorgestrel intrauterine system (LNG IUS) may become more available in the public sector of resource-poor countries, but it is unclear what product features might be attractive to users and what factors will influence uptake.
Study design: We recruited 671 women in Kenya who were seeking contraception at 6-12 weeks postpartum and gave them an opportunity to try the LNG IUS. We asked why they did or did not choose it, relative to the alternative options. χ² tests of association were done to examine participant characteristics and decision-making associated with choice.
Results: Participants chose the following methods: LNG IUS (16%), injectable (36%), subdermal implant (30%), progestin-only pills (15%) and copper intrauterine device (IUD) (3%). Reasons for not choosing the LNG IUS included fear of pain/injury/discomfort (34%), modesty issues regarding insertion (33%) and fear of hormonal/health side effects (31%). Nearly a third of LNG IUS acceptors said they would have chosen a short-acting method if the LNG IUS were not available, and only 21% would have chosen the copper IUD.
Conclusions: The LNG IUS could be an ideal method for increasing uptake of long-acting methods among recent postpartum women. Product attributes and comparisons to other contraceptive options are important factors in decision-making. Even among women comfortable with intrauterine contraception, great distinctions and preferences are apparent. Addressing specific misconceptions and fears with better information can help women make the best personal choices.
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