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TOPIC : THE KNOWLEDGE AND PREVALENCE OF THE USE
OF ORAL PILLS AMONG FEMALE UNDERGRADUATES
BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
There has been considerable concern in many
countries about the sexual and reproductive health of
young people, in part because of their perceived increased
vulnerability to the risk of sexually transmitted infections
(STIs), including acquired immune deficiency syndrome
(AIDS), the potential risks to their health due to early
pregnancy, and the negative consequences of early and
non-marital childbearing to young people’s life
prospects. Public concern over the reproductive health
problems among Nigerian youth has drawn the attention
of researchers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
and policy makers to examining the driving force behind
the upsurge in adolescent sexual activity.
Over the last decades, several researchers have identified
unsafe abortion as an important challenge associated
with women's reproductive health in Nigeria. Induced
abortion currently accounts for 20,000 of the estimated
50,000 maternal deaths that occur in Nigeria each year
(Akingba, 1977; and Okonofua and Ilumoka, 1992). It
is thus the single largest contributor to maternal mortality.
Numerous studies have documented the social, economic
and health problems associated with early and unplanned
pregnancies (Okonofua, 1994; and Ladipo, 1989).
The performance of an abortion is illegal under Nigerian
criminal law, unless the woman's life is threatened
by the pregnancy. As a result, induced abortions are
usually obtained in secret, and are frequently unsafe.
Unsafe abortion is often the end result of an unwanted
pregnancy, which in turn is often the result of lack
of contraceptive use. This trend is most profoundly
demonstrated among adolescents. Hospital-based studies
have shown that in Nigeria up to 80% of patients with
abortion-related complications are adolescents (Adewole,
1992; Okonofua, Onwudiegwu and Odunsi, 1992; Anate,
Awoyemi and Oyawoye, 1995 and Brabin L et al., 1995).
Similarly, a community-based study of abortion prevalence
found that one-third of women who obtained an abortion
were adolescents (Okonofua et al, 1996)
the utilization of modern and traditional methods of
contraception has always been shown to be poor among
Nigerian adolescents. Studies from western and southern
Nigeria have found rates of contraceptive use among
sexually active adolescents to be low, about 30% (Arowoju
and Adekunle, 2000; Okpani and Okpani, 2000). The 1990
Demographic and Health Survey found that only 11% of
sexually active women aged 15-19 ever used any modern
contraceptive method. Such rates of contraceptive use
are much lower than levels seen in similar age-groups
in many Sub-Saharan African countries, or than levels
in industrialized countries. Given the increasing adolescent
sexual activity and decreasing age at first sex in developing
countries (Nnko and Pool, 1997; Adedoyin and Adegoke,
1995, and Oladepo and Brieger, 1994), the use of contraceptives
to prevent unwanted pregnancy and unsafe abortion is
Among the various
forms of contraception, emergency contraceptives are
the only one that can be used after sexual intercourse,
offering a second chance to prevent unwanted pregnancy
(Gold, Schein and Coupey, 1997; Barnhart and Sondheimer,
1994). Levonorestrel-only pills and combined oral contraceptives
are the most common emergency contraceptive methods
available in Nigeria; they can be obtained over the
counter from patent medicine and pharmacy shops. The
aim of this study is to determine the knowledge and
prevalence of the use of oral pill among female undergraduates
in Nigeria. In addition, I shall evaluate factors the
influence their knowledge and perceptions to enable
the development of strategies that will improve use
of oral pill by Nigerian female undergraduates.
STATEMENT OF RESEARCH PROBLEM
The promotion of effective contraceptive use
among Nigerian adolescents is a major challenge if their
reproductive health is to be improved. Given that Nigerian
youths are now marrying later, are increasingly interested
in acquiring a formal education and are increasingly
having premarital sex, it is clear that allowing the
existing gap between contraceptive need and contraceptive
utilization to be left unfilled will result in a dramatic
rise in the prevalence of unsafe abortions. This will
further compound overall levels of maternal mortality
Other than identifying at-risk groups that are often
unaware of contraception, a comprehensive study of the
knowledge and prevalence of the use of oral pill and
of societal views on risks associated with abortion
is highly needed. In particular, social and cultural
barriers to contraceptive utilization among adolescents
need to be analysed and this is one of the main thrust
of this research work.
Societal acceptance or rejection of any private
behavior, including contraception, is likely to affect
that behavior profoundly. According to Hall (1990),
some instructional books and women's magazines provide
contradictory messages regarding condom use. Specifically,
they portray the condom either as a symbol of pleasure
and of a life associated with responsible sexual intercourse,
or as a symbol of promiscuity and disease.
Given the fact that the target population here is primarily
college undergraduates, a relevant question is whether
providing contraceptives to unmarried youth is socially
accepted. Several investigators, including Bardis (1982),
Bulatao and Lee (1973), and Carballo et al. (1983),
have studied the issue of acceptability in different
countries. Overall, the findings indicate that a negative
attitude toward contraception is not limited to specific
The family of origin plays an important role in contraceptive
decisions (Hornick, Devlin, Downey, & Baynham, 1986).
For example, parental suggestion to use condoms has
been found to be significantly related to condom use
among male African-American adolescents (Wilson, Kastrinakis,
D'Angelo, & Getson, 1994). Hanson, Myers, and Ginsburg
(1987) found that a significant reduction in adolescents'
chances of out-of-wedlock pregnancy was associated with
having been raised according to family values stressing
responsibility. Further, unstable or deprived family
environments have been found to characterize adolescent
runaways who engaged in unsafe sex (Kaliski, Rubinson,
Lawrance, & Levy, 1990). To be raised in a "problem
family" appears to be one of the strongest correlates
of contraction of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
in teenagers (Helge, 1989).
Stiffman, Earls, Robins, Jung, and Kulbok (1987) pointed
out that birth control availability and education should
be supplemented by family-oriented interventions in
order to reduce teenage pregnancies. Tucker (1989) suggested
that more intergenerational communication is necessary,
identifying the mother as the best potential agent of
sexual socialization for teenagers. Yalom, Brewster,
and Estler (1981) found that 80% of college-educated
mothers would help their daughters obtain contraceptives.
The high level of education of the mothers might have
contributed to their open-mindedness; nevertheless,
it shows that some mothers are indeed supportive of
contraceptive use by their daughters.
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The issues that underline low contraceptive
use by female youths in Nigeria as confirmed by some
contemporary literature have not been given serious
attention. Some of such issues can be summarized by
the following research questions, which translate into
the objectives of the study.
1. To determine the knowledge of oral contraceptives
amongst female undergraduates.
2. To determine the prevalence of the use of oral contraceptives
amongst female undergraduates.
3. To determine the most prevalent contraceptives used
by female undergraduates.
4. To determine the knowledge of female undergraduates
about the common side effects of the use of oral contraceptives.
5. To evaluate the factors the influence their knowledge
and perceptions of oral pill usage
RESEARCH QUESTIONS AND HYPOTHESES
1. What necessitated for oral contraceptive
use among female undergraduates students?
2. What factors influence their knowledge and perceptions
of oral pill?
3. What are the psychological and other correlates of
contraceptive practices among female undergradute students
4. What strategies could be developed to improve use
of oral pill by Nigerian female undergraduates?
The research hypotheses to be tested in the course of
this research work are stated below:
1. Female undergraduates are knowledgeable about oral
2. That the knowledge of contraceptives determines its
usage amongst female undergraduates.
3. Oral pills are effective among female undergraduates
METHODOLOGY AND DATA COLLECTION INSTRUMENT
Primary data shall be the basis of this research
wok. The data shall be generated by means of a structured
questionnaire instrument. Data required for the study
include certain relevant socio-cultural characteristics
of respondents, their knowledge of oral contraceptives
and health implications, sexual relationships etc.
The questionnaire to be used shall be self-administered
and a total of three hundred (300) undergraduates students
would be selected from the higher institutions in Lagos
State, for the purpose of this study. The sampling shall
be done randomly such that the respondents shall cut
across the University of Lagos, Lagos State University,
Yaba College of Technology and Lagos State Polytechnic.
The data, which would be collected from the questionnaire,
will be presented and analysed using the simple percentage
and chi-square methods.
The target population is the female undergraduate
students in the University of Lagos. The population
of female students in the University is estimated at
about 15,000 students comprising of new and returning
students. The sample is designed to accommodate all
categories of female students in the University. In
the whole school 300 respondents would be interviewed.
The sampling technique to used would be simple random
sampling since one respondent would be selected from
every second room in all the female students’
halls of residence. The main purpose of using the simple
random sampling is to give every member of the population
equal chance of being selected.
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This project work shall discuss the prevalence
of the use of oral pill among undergraduate female students
in Nigeria, focusing mainly on the awareness of female
youths on contraceptives usage and the health implications
associated with it. The psychological and other correlates
of contraceptive practices shall also be discussed in
the course of the research.
The gathering of views on the subject matter shall be
restricted to Lagos State with particular focus on female
undergraduate students of University of Lagos, Lagos
State University, Yaba College of Technology and Lagos
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study would help to determine the knowledge
of oral contraceptive and the extent of its use amongst
female undergraduates. This will enable us to know the
modalities for further educating the students on different
forms of contraceptives, proper use of such contraceptives,
side effects and suitability of the oral contraceptives
on individual basis.
OF THE STUDY
This research work shall commence by providing
a background of the subject matter justifying the need
for the study, followed by related literature on contraceptive
usage and practices by female undergraduates. The research
method shall then outline before results are presented
and discussed. Concluding comments shall reflect on
limitations of the study and identify implications of
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Anate M, Awoyemi
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Reproductive Health, The Robert H. Ebert Program, New
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(1994) “Induced abortion: a risk factor for secondary
infertility in Nigeria women”, Journal of Obstetrics
Onwudiegwu U. and Odunsi O.A, (1992) Illegal induced
abortion: a study of 74 cases in Ile-Ife, Nigeria, Tropical
et al.(1996), Women's Experiences of Unwanted Pregnancy
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New York: UNFPA, 1997.
- Ten Thousand Naira (Non-Negotiable)
Sample of Questionnaire are included
pill, contraceptives, reproductive health, female undergraduates
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