A study of 2,290 women aged 15-49 in the predominantly rural Transkei subregion of South Africa reveals an exceptionally high prevalence of contraceptive use and unexpected patterns of use for a poor Sub-Saharan African society. Overall, 60% of women have ever used a contraceptive method, and 42% are currently using one. Moreover, highly effective contraceptives, particularly injectables and the pill, represent 58% and 29% of use, respectively. Among women who have never used a method but intend to at some time, 90% plan to use injectables or the pill. About half of women have heard of the condom, but use of this method is negligible. Another striking feature of contraceptive use is that the proportions of never-married women who have ever used a method (64%) and who are current users (53%) exceed those among currently married women. Four-fifths of contraceptive users in Transkei obtain their method from government facilities. The largest proportion of women who use contraceptives say they wish to stop childbearing (43%); birthspacing and postponement of the first birth account for 33% and 21% of use, respectively.
(International Family Planning Perspectives, 22:4-9, 1996)
Orieji Chimere-Dan is senior lecturer in demography, Department of Sociology, and director, Population Research Programme, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.