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Stud Fam Plann. 1994 Mar-Apr;25(2):122-8.

The use of traditional methods of contraception among Turkish couples.

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  • 1Behavioral Epidemiology and Demographic Research Branch, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30341-3724.


About half the users of contraceptives in Turkey employ traditional methods of family planning, particularly withdrawal. This report presents data from a 1988 national survey to examine Turkish couples' use of and opinions about these methods. Use of traditional methods is widespread across all geographic, demographic, and socioeconomic groups. The principal reasons reported for not using methods generally considered to be highly reliable were fear of health problems and side effects and the opposition of husbands to such methods. Most couples who practice withdrawal also feel that it is as effective as modern methods. These findings imply that a major focus of family planning efforts should be the education of women, of their partners, and of health-care and family planning providers concerning the benefits, risks, and failure rates of both traditional and modern contraceptive methods.


The Turkish Population and Health Survey, 1988, was conducted among 5257 ever married women aged 15-49 years. The findings were that contraceptive prevalence increased from 38% in 1978 to 63% in 1988 among married women, and among women exposed to the risk of pregnancy from 50% to 77%. 26% of married respondents and 41% of all respondents practiced withdrawal. 6% of all contraceptive users reported use of periodic abstinence; 5% used ineffective methods such as douching. 14% used IUDs, 6% used the pill, and 7% used the condom. Only 2% had a tubal ligation. Withdrawal as a method declined from 44% to 41%, traditional methods in general declined from 65% to 51%, and ineffective methods declined from 7% to 3%. The total fertility rate was 3.0 children per woman, which was a decline of 1.3 births. 76% of ever married women desired no more children, and more than 90% of women with 3 or more children wanted no more children. 37% of all births during 1983-88 were unintended, of which almost 75% were unwanted. Unwanted births did not include the 24% who ended their pregnancy with an induced abortion. Regional analysis supported the notion that development was related to contraceptive prevalence. Contraceptive prevalence was highest in the Western developed regions and two central regions of intermediate developed (65-70%), compared to low prevalence in the east (51%) and south (53%). Traditional methods were the most widely used in the north, but, in general, traditional methods were widely used in all regions. In the North, 54% used withdrawal and 60% used any traditional method, compared to all the other regions, where 36-42% practiced withdrawal and 47-51% used any traditional method. 48% of urban and 56% of rural population used contraceptives, and 33% in urban and 31% in rural areas used traditional methods. A U-shaped curve expressed age factors and traditional method use. 78% of traditional method users reported health problems associated with modern method use. Among rural and poorly educated women, knowledge, cost, and availability of modern methods were important. Only 25% of traditional method users were aware of lesser reliability of their chosen method. 39-53% expressed interest in switching methods and indicated the lack of a change due to expected adverse health effects or husband's disapproval.

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