Knowledge, attitude and practice of natural family planning methods in a population with poor utilisation of modern contraceptives

J Obstet Gynaecol. 2006 Aug;26(6):555-60. doi: 10.1080/01443610600811482.


Sub-Saharan Africa has one of the highest fertility rates in the world, which is further promoted by the low utilisation of modern contraceptive methods. Yet, many communities claim to have traditional methods of family planning that pre-date the introduction of modern contraceptives, implying that contraception is a culturally acceptable norm. It was therefore postulated that the study population would have a high level of awareness and practice of natural methods of family planning. We aimed to obtain an insight into the extent and correctness of knowledge about natural family planning methods, and its practice as a guide to the general acceptance of contraception as a concept. Pre-tested structured questionnaires were administered to women of childbearing age in households properly numbered for primary healthcare activities. The level of awareness of natural family planning methods was significantly less than awareness for modern methods of contraception. The awareness rate for rhythm method, lactational amenorrhoea method and coitus interruptus was 50.7%, 42.1% and 36.1%, respectively. For all three national family planning methods, there is a steady decline between awareness, correct description of method and utilisation, a difference that was statistically significant in all cases. The sociodemographic factors of the responders had varying influence on utilisation of all three natural family planning methods studied. Rural dwellers practised the lactational amenorrhoea method significantly more often than urban dwellers. Significantly more Muslims than Christians with four children or more practised coitus interruptus or the rhythm method, while the use of lactational amenorrhoea method was significantly increased with the number of living children in both religious groups. There is a relatively low level of awareness of natural family planning methods in the study population, poor utilisation and wrong use of methods. Therefore, improving the correct level of information on natural family planning methods is likely to improve the use of both natural family planning and modern contraceptive methods.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Marital Status
  • Natural Family Planning Methods / methods*
  • Natural Family Planning Methods / statistics & numerical data
  • Nigeria
  • Parity
  • Pregnancy
  • Religion