Voluntary Contraceptive Uptake Among Postabortion Care Clients Treated With Misoprostol in Rwanda

Glob Health Sci Pract. 2019 Aug 27;7(Suppl 2):S247-S257. doi: 10.9745/GHSP-D-18-00399. Print 2019 Aug 22.


Introduction: Unsafe abortion remains a problem in Rwanda, where abortion is highly restricted by law. To reduce mortality and morbidity from unsafe abortion, Rwanda implemented a national postabortion care (PAC) program in 2012, which included using misoprostol to treat incomplete abortion. Key components of PAC are offering and providing voluntary contraceptive methods and counseling on their use, but little is known about contraceptive uptake among PAC clients treated with misoprostol. The objectives of the current study were (1) to assess the contraceptive uptake of PAC clients treated with misoprostol, including whether extended bleeding hinders uptake; and (2) to assess providers' knowledge of contraception and their willingness to counsel PAC clients on contraception, provide methods, or refer for contraceptive services.

Methods: We surveyed 68 PAC clients treated with misoprostol and 43 providers (84% nurses) in 17 health facilities across 3 districts in Rwanda where misoprostol for PAC had been introduced recently. PAC clients were recruited into the study prior to facility discharge and surveyed between 10 days and 1 month after discharge. We asked PAC clients and providers about demographic characteristics and attitudes toward contraception. We also asked PAC clients about contraceptive counseling received and postabortion contraceptive uptake or reasons for nonuse, and providers about their knowledge about return to fertility, pregnancy and contraceptive counseling, practices related to contraceptive method provision, and their knowledge and potential biases about PAC clients using contraception. We used descriptive statistics for analysis.

Results: PAC clients were 19-46 years old, and most (69%) had at least 1 child. Almost all PAC clients (94%) reported being counseled on contraception, but only 47% reported choosing and receiving a method before being discharged from the facility. Nevertheless, by the time of the survey, 71% reported using a method. PAC clients' main reason for not using contraception was wanting to become pregnant. Only 1 woman reported nonuse because of bleeding. Among providers, more than half (56%) reported there are contraceptive methods PAC clients should never use and about a quarter (26%) reported incorrect information on when PAC clients' fertility could return.

Conclusion: We found no evidence that bleeding associated with misoprostol for PAC influenced women's contraceptive uptake. However, as PAC programs expand to include misoprostol as a treatment option, accurate and high-quality postabortion contraception counseling and method provision at both treatment and follow-up visits must be strengthened.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abortifacient Agents, Nonsteroidal / therapeutic use*
  • Abortion, Incomplete / drug therapy*
  • Abortion, Induced*
  • Abortion, Spontaneous / drug therapy*
  • Adult
  • Aftercare*
  • Contraception / statistics & numerical data*
  • Contraceptive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Misoprostol / therapeutic use*
  • Nurses
  • Pregnancy
  • Rwanda
  • Young Adult


  • Abortifacient Agents, Nonsteroidal
  • Contraceptive Agents
  • Misoprostol