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Contraception. 2002 Jul;66(1):23-6.

Perception of university students in Ghana about emergency contraception.

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Navrongo Health Research Center, Navrongo, UER, Ghana.


Emergency contraception (EC) refers to methods that women can use to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sexual intercourse, method failure, or incorrect use. There is growing worldwide acceptance and promotion of EC as a measure to reduce the level of unwanted pregnancies and, hence, unsafe abortions. The potential effect of EC in this regard could be most evident in sub-Saharan Africa. In Ghana, the Ministry of Health has since 1996 included EC in its reproductive health service policy and standards. The Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana is the only agency involved in the promotion of EC in the country. Very little is known about societal perception of EC. We undertook a study to assess knowledge and attitude toward EC among a sample of students at the University of Ghana. We used a two-page, self-administered questionnaire in a cross-sectional study among students chosen by random sampling. The aspects of EC assessed included level of knowledge, extent of use, common traditional methods of emergency contraception, as well as socially and culturally acceptable ways to promote EC in Ghana. We also assessed how the availability of EC could influence the use of condoms among male respondents. Less than half (43.2%) of the 194 respondents (88 males and 106 females) had heard of modern emergency contraceptive methods. Postinor-2, a dedicated emergency contraceptive product, which was already on the Ghanaian market, was known to 1.5% of respondents. Only 11.3% of respondents indicated correctly the recommended time within which emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) are to be taken after unprotected sex. Taking concentrated sugar solutions, having an enema, and douching were commonly used traditional methods of EC. More than half (55.0%) of the male respondents indicated that they would either "certainly" or "probably" reduce how often they used condoms once they knew that EC was available. Almost all (97.4%) the respondents wanted to learn more about EC. The indications from this study are that the promotion of EC in Ghana is desired and must be encouraged. The fact that EC does not offer protection against sexually transmitted infections should always be emphasized.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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