Emergency Contraception: Awareness, Perception and Practice among Female Undergraduates in Imo State University, Southeastern Nigeria
BACKGROUND Limited knowledge and practice of contraception is a global public health problem. Unintended pregnancies are the primary cause of induced abortion. When safe abortions are not available, as in Nigeria with restricted abortion laws, abortion can contribute significantly to maternal mortality and morbidity. Adequate information on the awareness and the use of emergency contraception is necessary for planning interventions in groups vulnerable to unwanted pregnancy. AIM The aim of the following study is to access the awareness, perception and practice of emergency contraception among female undergraduates in Imo State University, South Eastern Nigeria. SUBJECTS AND METHODS A questionnaire based cross-sectional survey using female undergraduates selected randomly from Imo State University, Owerri. RESULTS A total of 700 students participated in the study. Awareness of emergency contraception was very high (85.1%) (596/700). The awareness was significantly higher amongst students in health related faculties than in the non-health related faculties (P = 0.01). The main sources of information were through friends (43.1%) (317/700) and lectures (22.1%) (192/700). High dose progestogen (postinor-2) was the most commonly known type of emergency contraception (70.8%) (422/596). Only 58.1% (346/596) of those who were aware of emergency contraception approved of their use. The major reasons given by the 41.9% (250/596) who disapproved of their use were religious reasons (50.4%) (126/250) and that they were harmful to health (49.2%) (123/250). Two-third (67%) (46 9/700) of the students were sexually active and only 39.9% (187/469) of them used emergency contraception. High dose progestogen (postinor-2) was again the most commonly used method (70.8%) (422/596). The most common situation in which emergency contraception was used was following unprotected sexual intercourse (45.5%) (85/144). Only 34.6% (206/596) of those who were aware of emergency contraception identified correctly the appropriate time interval for its effectiveness. CONCLUSION Although the awareness of emergency contraception was high amongst female undergraduates, the attitude and practice are still poor. The inclusion of reproductive health education as part of the undergraduate school curriculum might help to change students' attitude toward emergency contraceptives.