Most vaginally inserted methods have limited availability and use despite offering characteristics that align with many women's stated preferences (e.g., nonhormonal and/or on demand). The objective of this review was to identify enablers and barriers to women's adoption and continuation of vaginally inserted contraceptive methods in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). We searched three databases (PubMed, Embase, and Web of Science) and 18 websites using keywords related to five vaginally inserted contraceptive methods (diaphragm, vaginal ring, female condom, copper intrauterine device [IUD], hormonal IUD) and terms associated with their adoption and continuation. Searches were limited to resources published between January 2010 and September 2020. Studies eligible for inclusion in our review presented results on women's use and perspectives on the enablers and barriers to adoption and continuation of the vaginally inserted contraceptive methods of interest in LMICs. Relevant studies among women's partners were also included, but not those of providers or other stakeholders. Data were coded, analyzed, and disaggregated according to a framework grounded in family planning (FP) literature and behavioral theories common to FP research and program implementation. Our initial search yielded 13,848 results, with 182 studies ultimately included in the analysis. Across methods, we found common enablers for method adoption, including quality contraceptive counseling as well as alignment between a woman's preferences and a method's duration of use and side effect profile. Common barriers included a lack of familiarity with the methods and product cost. Notably, vaginal insertion was not a major barrier to adoption in the literature reviewed. Vaginally inserted methods of contraception have the potential to fill a gap in method offerings and expand choice. Programmatic actions should address key barriers and enable voluntary use.
Published in a peer-reviewed journal of the Population Council.