Journal Article

Choosing and using the progesterone vaginal ring: Women’s lived experiences in three African cities

Purpose
This study explored experiences of selecting and utilizing a newly introduced contraceptive – the progesterone vaginal ring (PVR) – among women seeking a contraceptive method in 3 African capital cities (Abuja, Nairobi, and Senegal). The study explored women’s perceptions of, and lived experiences with, using the new product to better understand their reception of a new contraceptive. This understanding will help inform the design of programs to support women in their adoption and continued use of the PVR and other new contraceptives.

Patients and Methods
This longitudinal, qualitative study drew on an interpretive phenomenological approach, involving multiple in-depth interviews (IDIs) with 9 study participants over a 6-month period. Participants involved in the study were postpartum women seeking contraceptive services at participating clinics. A total of 25 IDIs were conducted, and a detailed “within-case” and “cross-case” analysis of participants’ accounts was carried out to identify similar and dissimilar themes along descriptive, linguistic, and conceptual lines.

Results
Four overarching themes emerged from the analysis. These themes circulated around the unconventionality of the PVR, which heightened its desirability among participants; the sense of comfort that women gained from opting to use the PVR over other FP methods; narratives of consideration that centered on women’s partners, and that were important for ensuring the sustainability of women’s PVR use; and the conundrums that women grappled with as they prepared to disengage from the PVR after two cycles of use.

Conclusion
The PVR is an acceptable contraceptive method to postpartum women in urban African settings. However, prior to its introduction into new country contexts, formative data on women’s perceptions of, and reactions to, the product need to inform country preparation processes. Such information would be useful for tailoring counseling around this contraceptive, as well as for product marketing and robust uptake of the method.