Emergency Contraceptive Use among Female Undergraduate Students at the University of Calabar, Calabar, Nigeria

Francis Ayang, Ekok, Antor Odu Ndep, Anthonia Adindu


About 42 million abortions take place annually worldwide with almost 20 million of them unsafe and responsible for 70,000 maternal deaths. Young undergraduate women are especially vulnerable with risky sexual behaviours which lead to unwanted pregnancies, abortions and sexually transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS. Cross River State of which Calabar is the capital, has one of the highest HIV prevalence (7.1%) in Nigeria. The purpose of this study was to determine the knowledge and practice of emergency contraception by female undergraduate students of the University of Calabar. A cross sectional descriptive survey design was used to study 400 full time fourth year female undergraduate students randomly selected from 30 departments at University of Calabar. A semi-structured self-administered questionnaire was used for data collection. Data were analysed using statistical packages for the social sciences version 16.0. The research protocol was approved by the Ethical Review Committee of the Cross River State Ministry of Health. Most of the respondents (69.9%) knew what emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) were used for, but specific knowledge on timing (51.7%) and dosage (39.1%) were lower. With almost 70% sexually active, single, young people, condom use was 59.8% and ECP use was very low (31%). The commonest reasons for ECP non-use were lack of awareness (42%) and fear of side effects (34.2%).  Reproductive health education including ECP awareness and HIV/AIDS prevention should be part of the general studies course. Peer-to-peer health education should be encouraged at the University Medical Center.

Keywords: Emergency contraception, abortions, reproductive health, peer-to-peer communication, client-centered

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