Research on women's reproductive behavior and family planning in developing countries is usually focused on western contraceptive methods and rarely addresses indigenous contraception, such as herbs, amulets, and charms that are believed to prevent pregnancy. However, the available data demonstrate that indigenous contraception is widely known, and its prevalence often rivals that of western methods. Based on qualitative data collected in Greater Maputo, Mozambique, in 1993, this study explores and analyzes women's choice between western methods-mainly oral contraceptives, intra-uterine devices and injectables-available from state-run family planning clinics, and indigenous contraception, a combination of herbal and magical medicine, provided by traditional healers. The study demonstrates that women's choice between the two types of methods is determined by their socio-demographic characteristics and cultural background, access to these methods, perceptions of the effectiveness and undesirable side-effects of these methods, and by restrictions imposed by the providers. Although indigenous methods may not compete with western contraception in the long run, their present-day persistence warrants the attention of scholars and policymakers who intend to integrate women's concerns and constraints in the design of family planning systems.
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