Factors influencing the use of contraceptive methods amongst adolescents in George, South Africa
Introduction A broad understanding of adolescent sexual behaviour is crucial: sexual experience and risky sexual behaviour are prevalent among adolescents. Many studies have been done and opinions have been given about adolescent behaviour regarding contraception and safe sexual practices. There seems to be sufficient knowledge, but passing it on to adolescents is inadequate. The aim of this study was to identify the factors that influence the use of contraceptive methods amongst 16 year old adolescents attending high schools in George, South Africa. Method This was a descriptive, cross-sectional study. Consent from parents/guardians and assent from study participants were obtained. Three high schools in George were randomly selected. All 16 year old learners attending these 3 schools, which assented and consented, were invited to voluntarily complete a self-administered questionnaire, specifically developed for this study. Results One hundred and eighty four 16-year old adolescents voluntarily took part. The male: female ratio was fairly equal. The average age of sexual debut was 15 years, with 42% using contraception at the time of the study. 33% of the sexually active respondents were not using contraception. Knowledge about contraception was reasonably good, with school, home and friends playing pivotal roles. Condoms were perceived to be to easiest available by the sexually active and non-active respondents, whereas injectable contraception was perceived easily available by the sexually active participants, but not by the sexually inactive participants. Contraception is being used mostly by instruction from parents, but peer pressure plays a role here too, as indicated by 20% of the respondents. The most popular reasons for not using contraception whilst being sexually active include: Sensation loss with condoms and partner pressure. Conclusion 16 year old adolescents attending high schools in George do not differ much from their peers nationally and internationally. Their sexual debut is slightly earlier; therefore their contraception use debut is also earlier. Their knowledge regarding contraceptive methods is acceptable, showing that previous educational programmes are bearing fruit and still need to continue. Friend/peer factors play an important role in the decision making of the respondents. This has been shown in their knowledge gain, access to and reasoning behind the use or non-use of contraception. These should be considered in new strategies aiming to improve the educational programmes.