Sexual behaviour, contraceptive practice and reproductive health outcomes among Nigerian university students

  • CL Ejembi Department of Community Medicine, Ahmadu Bello University
  • A Otu University Health Services, Ahmadu Bello University, Samaru, Zaria
Keywords: University students, Reproductive health knowledge, Sexual behaviour, Contraceptive use, Reproductive health outcomes


Context: The continued poor reproductive health behaviour and outcomes among youths informed the investigation of the knowledge, attitudes, sexual behaviour, outcomes and care-seeking among university students in Zaria, north western Nigeria.
Methods: Using a cross-sectional descriptive study design, self-administered structured questionnaires were administered to a sample of 400 undergraduate students of Ahmadu Bello University students drawn by multi-staged sampling to collect information on their reproductive health knowledge and behaviour.
Findings: Knowledge of most aspects of reproductive health was high. However, gaps where found in some specific areas. Apart from ethnicity and faculty of study, no significant associations were found between knowledge and other demographic variables. Attitudes to reproductive health were generally negative. Overall, 64.1% of the respondents had had sexual intercourse; 65.4% of the males and 60.2% of the females students sexually experienced. The mean age at sexual exposure for females and males were 17.8 and 19.2 years, respectively. The mean number of lifetime sexual partners was 3.4 for males and 2.4 for the females. Of the 54.7% currently sexually active respondents, 53.5% of the males and 48.0% of the females were involved in multiple sexual relationships.
Only 32.4% of the sexually exposed respondents had ever used or were currently using a method of contraception. Condom use was only 30% among the sexually active respondents with use higher among the males; however, the use was inconsistent. Use of effective contraceptives was very low. Overall, 23.3% of the respondents had experienced symptoms suggestive of sexually transmitted infections within six months preceding the study, and self medication was the predominant method of treatment. Utilization of the university health services for their reproductive health needs was found to be abysmally low.
Conclusion: The gaps in reproductive health knowledge, negative attitudes, high prevalence of risky sexual activity and poor reproductive health care seeking behaviour call for mounting of educational intervention programmes and development of youth-friendly reproductive health services on campus.
KEY WORDS: University students; Reproductive health knowledge; Sexual behaviour; Contraceptive use; Reproductive health outcomes
Journal of Community Medicine & Primary Health Care Vol.16(2) 2004: 8-16

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