How teenage girls in Nakuru are secretly using family planning methods

Kaptembwo Assistant assistant Chief Charles Monari (left) talking to some girls of the girls who have been introduced to Family Planing at Kaptembwo Estate in Nakuru West on September 3, 2020. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Carol is bitter. Her Class Eight daughter is already on a family planning contraceptive.

For five years, the 14-year old girl from Nakuru’s Kaptembwo slum has been carrying an implant she got from a private clinic. 

Carol, 36, learnt about the uptake of family planning from her daughter’s friend after realising the two were sexually active. She stormed the clinic demanding to know who had inserted the contraceptive in her daughter and said it should be removed.

“Why would my daughter use family planning methods? I am puzzled, and angered as a parent on why this was done behind my back,” Carol said.

Her efforts to get answers at the private clinic have been futile, as the management keeps dodging her.

The implant was inserted on August 19, 2020, and the date of its removal is August 19, 2025. The girl could not comprehend the side-effects of contraceptives during an interview at their home.

But she revealed that two weeks after the implant was inserted, she bled for one week. “So far, I have had no complications since the bleeding stopped,” she said.

She is not alone. Adolescent girls as young as 14 in Nakuru’s Kaptembwo and Kwa Rhonda slums are secretly being introduced to family planning methods without the knowledge of their parents.

The school-going children are on three-month injections and five-year implants to control birth, services offered in private clinics and chemist shops within the slums.

Beatrice, the mother to a Form Two girl at Nakuru High School, is also in shock after learning that her daughter gad an implant. “Has my daughter secretly been having sex? Surely, why should she use contraceptives without notifying me?” she posed.

It is three years since she was introduced to implants. “I was given these while in was in Class Eight. Initially, I did not have a boyfriend, but I was told it can control birth,” the girl said.

She has endured severe bleeding, dizziness and irregular menstruation since the implants were inserted.

Use of family planning methods, she says, has helped prevent pregnancies as she indulges in sex for food. “My mother does casual jobs to earn a living. That money has not been enough. I, therefore, help her feed my younger siblings,” she said.

She claims her mother is aware that she is using contraceptives, allegations her mother denied. “Why would I introduce my daughter to long term contraceptives? Is she a student or a wife who needs to plan for birth?” Beatrice posed.                                  

Eve from Kimonde area in Kaptembwo slum was lured into family planning methods by her peers. The Third Former got a three-month injection and claims she informed her parents. “My daughter is sexually active. When she shared with me that she wanted to use contraceptives, I did not object,” her father said in an interview.

The Standard visited one of the clinics where about eight teenagers claimed to have received family planning services, but management was reluctant to talk to us.

Tabitha (a woman who claimed to be the owner of the clinic), said the teens requested for the methods, without consent of their parents. “We are allowed by the law to provide them with family planning services,” she said.

Reproductive health experts told The Standard that consent from parents or a caregiver is a mandatory requirement before issuing contraceptives to teenagers.

Dr Adelaide Baraza, an obstetrician at the Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital, said health professionals should take clients through side effects of contraceptives to enable them to choose convenient methods.

“Anybody who is sexually active, and desires to prevent pregnancy has a right to access contraceptives. If parents agree to have their teenage girls put on family planning methods, nobody should deny them,” she said. “But teenagers cannot decide on their own.”

Side effects associated with some methods at a young age are reduced calcium in the bones and inadequate bone development.