Among 2,460 secondary school students surveyed in two southeastern Nigerian states, only 36% could correctly identify the most likely time for conception to occur. Female students were considerably more likely than males to understand the timing of conception (46% vs. 25%); less dramatic differences emerged by students' residence and grade in school. Among students who supplied information about their sexual activity, 40% had had intercourse; the proportion who were sexually experienced climbed from 26% of 14-year-olds to 54-55% of 18-19-year-olds. While 36% of the young women had had sexual partners who were roughly their age, 25% had been involved with older businessmen; the young women said they have intercourse more frequently and are less likely to restrict intercourse to the safe period of their cycle when they are involved with older partners than when they have boyfriends their own age. Only 17% of sexually active students had ever used a contraceptive method other than abstinence. In focus groups and in-depth discussions, students expressed a strong desire for better education about contraception and the consequences of sexual intercourse, and recommended that both schools and parents participate in educating young people about reproductive health.
(International Family Planning Perspectives, 23:28-33, 1997)