Adolescent Sexuality and Fertility in Kenya: A Survey of Knowledge, Perceptions, and Practices
Ajayi, Ayo A.
Paxman, John M.
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This article presents findings from a survey conducted in Kenya in 1985 of the reproductive health knowledge, attitudes, and practices among more than 3,000 unmarried Kenyan youth, students and nonstudents, between the ages of 12 and 19. The survey was designed to elicit information that would be useful in gauging the kinds of problems Kenyan adolescents face in order to design programs that meet their needs. The study shows that although a solid majority of adolescents appear to have received information on reproductive health, the quality of the infor- mation is generally low. Fewer than 8 percent could correctly identify the fertile period in a woman's menstrual cycle. A substantial proportion of the population surveyed, more than 50 percent, is sexually active, having initiated intercourse some time between 13 and 14 years of age, on average. In spite of a general disapproval of premarital sex (but approval of the use of contraceptives among the sexually active), most of the sexually active population-89 percent-have never used contraceptives. The many contradictions between attitudes and practices pose serious questions and demonstrate the need to reexamine the programs (and policies) that provide access to reproductive health services to adolescents in Kenya. (STUDIES IN FAMILY PLANNING 1991; 22,4: 205-216)