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We Ask Malaysian Muslim Women To Share Their Experiences With Contraception

"Abstinence is the only thing we are taught."

Cover image via rhsupplies/Unsplash & canargentralian/Unsplash

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Talking about contraception in a Muslim society has always been considered taboo and frowned upon, and these Malaysian women we spoke to would agree:

1. "Rezeki Tuhan so no contraception allowed"

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via Deenspiration

Which contraceptive methods have you used?

Condoms, birth control pills, intrauterine device (IUD), and morning after pills.

How do you think the Malaysian Muslim society views contraception?

Rezeki Tuhan (God's sustenance), so no contraceptions allowed. They do the pull-out method and they are surprised when they get pregnant.

Tell us about your experiences using contraception:

I used condoms initially and then after marriage, I used the pill but got pregnant anyway because I took it inconsistently. High discipline is needed for a lot of contraceptives.

What are the reason(s) you use contraception?

I used IUD after my first child as we have decided to have one child. It's convenient and works. It costs a bit more but five years hassle-free.

2. "I think a lot of Malaysian Muslims have this thinking that contraception is haram in the Shari'ah Law"

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via The New York Times

Which contraceptive methods have you used?

Condoms, coitus interruptus (pulling out before ejaculation), and calendar rhythm method (planned sex on and off ovulation cycle).

How do you think the Malaysian Muslim society views contraception?

I think a lot of Malaysian Muslims have this thinking that contraception is haram in the Shari'ah Law. I think these people were not taught or were misinformed by their own family or some religious figures. I've also heard of horror stories of wives who lack control of their own body because they either don't know their own rights, or lack the will and support to fight for it.


Tell us about your experiences using contraception:

Whenever we do it, I'll make sure we at least have a condom on standby. Can't really put my full trust in his pull-out game. Also, I tried to avoid doing it when I'm most fertile.

What are the reason(s) you use contraception?

We feel that, at the moment, we are not financially capable to raise a child comfortably.

3. "We perceive it as a permissible method. Anything that shall benefit our body and doesn't harm them is considered as a prevention or medication."

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via Sinar Harian

Which contraceptive methods have you used?

Condoms and birth control pills.

How do you think the Malaysian Muslim society views contraception?

We perceive it as a permissible method. Anything that shall benefit our body and doesn't harm them is considered as a prevention or medication.

Tell us about your experiences using contraception:

Birth control pill is one of the best methods, as it is a small pill taken as a precaution for safe sex. It's a way we deal with responsibilities and it motivates us to really commit in taking just one pill a day. After that, it's all tawakal, believe that Allah will take care of it and no need to worry because you've done your part ahahaha. That is also a challenge for me.

What are the reason(s) you use contraception?

I use contraception due to my doctor's advice. I had a myomectomy surgery (fibroid removal operation), but using contraception is just a temporary thing for at least a year.

*Myomectomy is the removal of the uterus' fibroids, and while it doesn't harm the uterus or end a person's reproductive ability, contraceptions may help the recovery phase before conceiving again.

4. "What's wrong if I'm not ready to have kids?"

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Image via Muslim Women Connect

Which contraceptive methods have you used?

Condoms, morning after pills, and coitus interruptus (pulling out before ejaculation).

How do you think the Malaysian Muslim society views contraception?

Coming from a strict Malay Muslim family, I never learnt about contraception from home. Luckily, I went to an all-girls school where this topic is discussed openly. We even had a class where the school called a sex educator to teach us. I think my school still believes that sex is haram and all, but teenagers' hormones can't be stopped, so they still taught us on how to prevent. When I graduated, I don't think any of my schoolmates dropped out of school because of teen pregnancy. We all graduated well, with most of us earning a full scholarship.

Tell us about your experiences using contraception:

I want the pleasure but I'm not ready to have kids! Career first. I never do one night stands, because I'm not that kind of girl. I take a pap smear test yearly. You know, safety first. Morning after pills only when accidents happen, especially during my fertile days. Usually, we just pull out. That's the easiest and common I guess. Whenever I buy morning after pill, the pharmacist or the cashier will judge me. I feel so annoyed. What's wrong if I'm not ready to have kids?

What are the reason(s) you use contraception?

I'm not ready to have kids! Kids are so expensive and I am mentally not ready.

5. "To me, contraception is important as it gives you reassurance"

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Image via rhsupplies/Unsplash

Which contraceptive methods have you used?

Intrauterine device (IUD).

How do you think the Malaysian Muslim society views contraception?

Some have negative views towards it, especially when it comes to using devices, like IUD and such. They prefer to plan on their own.

Tell us about your experiences using contraception:

I have been using IUD for three-plus-one years (re-insert for the second time) and honestly, it works because I've had intercourse on my supposed ovulation days more than a couple of times. Since inserting IUD, I've never used any other methods, like rhythm planning, condoms, or the pull-out method.

It doesn't feel like there's anything in your uterus, as many have claimed. I got it at RM1 at my local health clinic. To me, it is an ideal choice, as it doesn't disrupt my hormones. Also, it helps with my period pain, because I used to have very painful period pain every month ever since I was 15 years old. Since I used IUD, I barely had any period pain.

To me, contraception is important as it gives you reassurance. So, to other women out there: if you want to use contraception, go for it and ignore all the petty talk about side effects and whatnot.

What are the reason(s) you use contraception?

Family planning.

6. "Some have to find out too late when the damage is already done"

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via Pacific Teen Treatment

Which contraceptive methods have you used?

Condoms, birth control pills, morning after pills, coitus interruptus (pulling out before ejaculation), and calendar rhythm method (planned sex on and off ovulation cycle).

How do you think the Malaysian Muslim society views contraception?

Personally, I think most Malaysians aren't well educated on the preventative measures that they could take when engaging in intercourse. Some have to find out too late when the damage is already done.

Tell us about your experiences using contraception:

Birth control pills gave me a lot of hormonal imbalance and mood swings. Morning after pill is amazing. Condoms are safer and more secure, but women still need to take pills, as you can never guarantee.

What are the reason(s) you use contraception?

I never want to get pregnant. I hate children and I don't think I love anyone that much to reproduce with them.

7. "A lot of times, this very important topic is not discussed at length to young women and they end up learning from unreliable sources"

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via Mathieu Stern (Unsplash)

Which contraceptive methods have you used?

Condoms, birth control pills, intrauterine device (IUD), morning after pills, coitus interruptus (pulling out before ejaculation), and calendar rhythm method (planned sex on and off ovulation cycle).

How do you think the Malaysian Muslim society views contraception?

I think it really depends on a few factors including: educational background, social environment, family and friends' attitudes, as well as accessibility to information and contraception. Generally speaking, I think it is more acceptable now than decades ago, but it is still a taboo to speak of it within the community if you are not married.

Although, I personally think it's beautiful, smart, and responsible to teach our young ladies about their bodies. A lot of times, this very important topic is not discussed at length to young women and they end up learning from unreliable sources. I also feel that most of our young ladies learn more from social media than educational institutions or parents. However, what about those who do not have access to social media? To our community, it's okay if you're married, but forbidden if you are not.

Tell us about your experiences using contraception:

I will just summarise my experience.

Condom: Not as pleasurable. Sometimes the rubber gets dry and that is just awful. Once I had a condom stuck in me and that's when I stopped asking my partner to use condom.

Birth control pill: Works great but having to be reminded to take it is just too much. I am a very forgetful person and when I am too busy, I just forget to take it even with a reminder on my phone.

Morning after pill: I had to take this once because the condom got stuck in me.

IUD: This has caused me some discomfort and bleeding. Was too traumatised to continue with IUD.

Implant: Hated it because I put on weight.

Pull-out paired with calendar method: Well, this was the reason I now have one kid. :)

Actually having kids: Probably the best natural contraception hahaha.

What are the reason(s) you use contraception?

Before kids: Too broke and irresponsible to have kids. After one kid: figured kids are a lot of work and expensive.

8. "Abstinence is the only thing we are taught"

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via @charlesdeluvio (Unsplash)

Which contraceptive methods have you used?

Condoms, morning after pills, coitus interruptus (pulling out before ejaculation), and calendar rhythm method (planned sex on and off ovulation cycle).

How do you think the Malaysian Muslim society views contraception?

It's definitely not an option. Abstinence is the only thing we are taught. All we are told is that before getting married, no sex. After marrying, a child is considered rezeki (blessing, in this context) and you have sex for the purpose of having children only, and definitely not for pleasure.

Tell us about your experiences using contraception:

There wasn't a "want" feeling in my life to have sex but my first-hand experience was that someone close to me got pregnant and had a child out of wedlock because they didn't use any contraceptive. That alone was enough for me to stay away from sex. Then, I started dating seriously when I was in university and my boyfriend at the time was more experienced (since he grew up and studied in the UK, and obviously the culture there is different, even as a Muslim).

My first time was with him and he was the one who taught me everything I needed to know about sex, including contraceptives and sexual aftercare. One of it was that girls have to pee immediately after to prevent a urinary tract infection (UTI).

One day, in the spur of the moment, we had sex without condoms for the first time but he did the pull-out method. However, after the whole ordeal, I was paranoid because my period was already late for about two to three days. So, I took a morning after pill without his knowledge, and it messed up my period and gave me the worse cramps. I told him about it eventually and he told me that taking it after 72 hours wouldn't be effective and that I had just messed up my hormones for no reason.

We decided to be safer so that I won't be too anxious and have been practising safe sex ever since.

What are the reason(s) you use contraception?

Obviously, one of the reasons is to avoid having babies when you're not married or ready to have one. Other than that is to keep both parties safe from sexually-transmitted diseases (STD).

9. "As a mother, there's a lot of guidance and help from both government, private doctors, and nurses on the different types, and finding what's best for the individual"

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via livvie_bruce/Unsplash

Which contraceptive methods have you used?

Condoms, birth control pills, morning after pills, surgical sterilisation, and coitus interruptus (pulling out before ejaculation).

How do you think the Malaysian Muslim society views contraception?

From my experience, I see a lot of support for contraception and family planning within the Muslim community. As a mother, there's a lot of guidance and help from both government, private doctors, and nurses on the different types, and finding what's best for the individual. In public parenting circles, I see Muslim women constantly discussing birth control and sharing advice and their experiences.

Tell us about your experiences using contraception:

I used condoms on and off. After childbirth (I have five kids!), I would take the daily pill (progestin-only) to prevent pregnancy but continue breastfeeding. After that, sometimes I switched to the combination pill or just stopped altogether. I don't like being on the pill, it does weird things to my hormones and body. After my fifth baby, I had my tubes tied. Woot woot!

What are the reason(s) you use contraception?

I wanted three-to-four-year gap between my kids.

Now that we've listened to these stories, what about the Islamic ruling on contraception?

Is contraception allowed in Islam, or is it completely forbidden for Muslims to utilise in their lives? Before we explore that, let's take a look at some statistics of contraception-usage within Malaysia:

  1. In a 2005 to 2015 study, the Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) in Malaysia is 32%, which is lower among other countries. (CPR: percentage of women who are practising, or whose sexual partners are practising, any form of contraception).

  2. CPR is the lowest among a vulnerable age group of 15 years old to 19 years old in Malaysia, according to National Population and Family Development Board (LPPKN), as reported in a study.

  3. In a report by CodeBlue, "A total of 41,083 teen pregnancies were recorded by the Ministry of Health (MOH) between 2017 and 2022, of which 35%, or 14,561 cases, were out of wedlock."

  4. Malay Mail reported that according to Assistant Commissioner Siti Kamsiah Hassan, out of the 424 reported cases of baby dumping, 285 babies were dumped right after being born, while 139 babies were foetuses. She also stated that while 50% have no known suspects, 30% were between the ages of 18 and 25.

There are several benefits of contraception, which according to World Health Organization (WHO), include: 
  1. Prevention of unwanted pregnancies helps to decrease maternal health issues and pregnancy-related deaths.
  2. Delay pregnancies of young girls at risk of health problems from early pregnancy.
  3. Prevention of pregnancy among older women who are at risk.
  4. Reduces unsafe abortions.
  5. Reduces HIV transmissions from mothers to newborns.

Proper sex education is very much needed in Malaysia and undeniable doubt on whether contraception is allowed in Islam is still prevalent among the Muslim community

There are little to no open and honest discussions about whether contraception is allowed in Islam, and if allowed, whether only some form of contraception is permissible. Today, we'll find out about the Islamic ruling on contraception.

It's worth noting that, Islam does not have specific methods to practise family planning, and the only principle is that the procedure must be safe and would not cause the death of the foetus in the mother's womb.

In a 2016 ruling issued by Mufti of Federal Territory's Office, the majority of scholars allow contraception, on the basis that:

  1. The methods are reversible and allow the wife to conceive once she is ready again.
  2. Another condition is that contraception is done with the consent of both husband and wife.
  3. The methods used are not life-endangering.
  4. The method is not sterilisation, or deprives the ability to reproduce completely. However, sterilisation is allowed in extreme situations. (Majma 'al-Fiqh al-Islami Conference, 15 December 1988)
The contraception methods that are reversible, thus permissible, include:
  1. Calendar rhythm method (Planned sex on and off ovulation cycle).
  2. Coitus interruptus (Pulling out before ejaculation).
  3. Male and female condoms.
  4. Intrauterine device (IUD).
  5. Hormonal method.
  6. Morning after pill.
  7. Birth control pill.
In conclusion, it is completely okay and permissible for a couple to use contraception for family planning reasons, such as distancing time between pregnancies and planning according to financial capacity.

As stated in one of the Islamic legal maxim, la darar wa la dirar, which means no intended or unintended harm is allowed, conceiving babies without gaps for recovery may be considered haram.

Although having sex out of wedlock is haram in Islam, it is still necessary to teach the young generation about practising safe sex

As humans, we are bound to make mistakes. We have no power to stop anyone, regardless of their faith and religion, from having premarital sex.

However, it's our responsibility to ensure the wellbeing of our community and reduce the statistics on teen pregnancies and baby dumpings. Despite its believers, Islam is not a religion that punishes and condemns, but guides instead.

Look out for more #sexualhealth stories and tips this month!

Image via SAYS

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