BACKGROUND : Unplanned pregnancies amongst students at higher education institutions are a
major concern worldwide, including South Africa. Apart from various social and psychological
challenges, unplanned pregnancies affect students’ objectives of achieving academic success.
Research undertaken in the United States of America (USA) indicates that around 80% of
female students in institutions of higher education between ages 18 and 24 are sexually active.
OBJECTIVES : To assess and describe the use of contraceptives by undergraduate female students
in a selected higher educational institution in Gauteng.
METHOD : A cross-sectional, descriptive, quantitative design was used. A total of 400 female
undergraduate students were requested to respond to a self-administered questionnaire.
Stratified random sampling was used to select the participants. They were selected
systematically from two campuses. Data were entered using an excel sheet at the Department
of Statistics, and analysed using the Statistical Analysis Software programme, (SAS version
9.3), of the Department of Statistics’ higher educational institutions.
RESULTS : A total of 74% females indicated they were sexually active, 79% of whom reported
using contraceptives. The most common used methods were oral contraceptives at 38%, and
25% for male condoms. The most commonly known methods were condoms at 84%, and the
oral contraceptive at 68%. The knowledge of condom use to prevent sexually transmitted
diseases was high at 91%.
CONCLUSION : Inadequate knowledge and awareness on some contraceptive methods was found.
Thus, educational programmes to increase students’ knowledge on the use of all contraceptive
methods are urgently needed.