Misconceptions about family planning, contraception and sex education, sexual abuse and congenital abnormalities of the genital system.
This chapter examines family planning, contraception, sex education, sexual abuse and sexual abnormalities. Scientific family planning is a new concept in Africa. The tendency continues to have as many children as possible and thus the very high birth rates, but also high infant mortality rates. Misconceptions about family planning are: family planning is a device of reducing the population without the knowledge of the community; family planning makes women sterile; and family planning makes women promiscuous. These misconceptions arose from ignorance and suspicion. Examples of misconceptions about contraception in general and method-specific misconceptions are examined and than corrected. A general misconception about contraception is that it causes abnormalities in future offspring. Most African cultures encourage heterosexual relationships and strongly disapprove of all other forms. Full fledged homosexual practice is rare but frowned upon. Incest and sexual activity with animals are also rare but sporadically reported. Excess of heterosexual connections in the form of premarital or extramarital contacts are common and result in many uncared for children. Developmental and functional abnormalities in the genital system occur and may be detected at birth, later in adolescence or in adulthood. Adult behavior may be the only manifestation of abnormality. Proper physical and functional sexual development of a child is still a collective responsibility in most African groups. Hypospadiasis, an imperforate vagina, undescended testicles, an extra male sex chromosome, an imperforate hymen and vaginal septum, an absence of the female sex chromosome and a female with a male sex chromosome set-up are some abnormalities discussed. Failure to menstruate is a definite sign of abnormal development.