Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest fertility rate in the world, with the highest unmet need for family planning (FP). Yet, there is a lack of knowledge about the determinants for non-utilisation of modern contraceptive methods among women of reproductive age. This systematic review of literature assessed factors affecting the unmet need and reasons for non-utilisation of modern contraceptive methods during the postpartum period in Sub-Saharan African women.
An online literature search was conducted in several databases: MEDLINE, Cochrane Review, PubMed, Elsevier’s Science Direct and Web of Science. The search was completed by hand searching. Data were extracted and summarised using the Arksey and O’Malley methodology.
In total, 19 studies were included; one qualitative study, seventeen quantitative, and one used a mixed-methods approach. Studies were conducted in Ethiopia (n = 11), Nigeria (n = 3), Kenya (n = 2), Malawi (n = 2) and Uganda (n = 1). Factors affecting the unmet need for modern contraceptive methods were described at three levels: (a) individual; (b) household; and (c) healthcare facility level. Reasons for non-use of FP included: fear of side effects; husband’s disapproval; the absence of menses; abstinence; and low perception of risk of pregnancy.
Unmet needs in postpartum FP in women from Sub-Saharan Africa were associated with health-system and socio-demographic determinants. We suggest that there is a need to improve the awareness of modern contraceptive methods through effective interventions. Further research is needed for under-studied countries in this continent.