“Antibiotics Can Work as a Contraceptive:” Contraceptive Knowledge and Use Among University Students in Calabar, Nigeria

Ibitola Asaolu, Nidal Kram, Christopher Ajala, Ememobong Aquaisua, Akinsola Asaolu, Kylie Kato-Lagumbay, Alice Abuh, Moses Bernand, John Ehiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Many sexually active youths who wish to delay pregnancy are not using any form of modern contraceptives. In sub-Saharan Africa, less than 1 in 5 sexuallyactive youth do not use contraceptives. In Nigeria, 48.4% of all sexually active unmarriedwomen have an unmet need for contraception. Although the literature is replete withinformation on structural barriers to modern contraceptives, there is limited scholarshipon contextual factors that may inhibit modern contraceptive use among Nigerian youth.This study uses a qualitative research approach to assess knowledge and use of natural,modern, and folkloric contraceptive methods among a sample of university students inCalabar, Nigeria.Methods: This study used data from focus group discussions among women andmen in university halls of residence, all of whom were unmarried. Also, three malepharmacists and three female community health workers were interviewed. All focusgroup discussions and interviews took place in August 2017 and were conducted inCalabar Metropolis, Cross River State, Nigeria. The audio recordings were transcribedinto detailed summaries of the interviews and focus group discussions. All data analysiswas completed using Atlas.Ti (version 8).Results: University men and women have limited knowledge of and applicationof natural and modern contraception. Participants listed folkloric methods ofcontraceptives, including repurposing pharmaceuticals (e.g., antibiotics, quinine, andAndrews Livers Salt-a laxative) as contraceptive agents. Respondents also discussedthe use of non-pharmaceuticals such as water, salt solution, and squatting afterintercourse as contraceptives. Generally, university students defaulted to withdrawal,calendarmethod, and emergency contraceptives as preferredmethods of contraception. Lastly, condoms were used among participants in causal sexual encounters. In dating relationships, however, both male and female students cited their partners’ hesitancy tocondom use as such act could indicate distrust.Conclusion: Awareness and use of modern contraceptives are limited among universitystudents in Calabar, Nigeria. The use of folkloric contraceptives could lead to bodily harmand unintended pregnancy. Further research is needed to elucidate factors that promoteuse of folkloric methods of contraceptives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number665653
JournalFrontiers in Reproductive Health
StatePublished - 2021


  • Nigeria
  • contraceptive methods
  • contraceptive practices
  • family planning
  • qualitative study
  • university student (MeSH)
  • youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Family Practice


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