Journal Article

Fertility and contraceptive use among young adults in Harare, Zimbabwe

In 1986, a survey of young adults aged 14-24 in Harare, Zimbabwe obtained information about their knowledge, attitudes, and sexual behavior. Most adolescent childbearing took place within marriage, although sexual intercourse was generally initiated before marriage. Knowledge of family planning was high, but contraceptive use lagged behind knowledge. Fewer than half of the respondents had talked to an elder about family planning, sex, or pregnancy. Fourteen percent of young women who were unmarried at the time of first intercourse used contraceptives, compared to 18 percent of young unmarried men. Current contraceptive use among sexually active unmarried youths was 36 percent among women and 29 percent among men. One consequence of low contraceptive use was a high number of unwanted premarital pregnancies. Twenty-nine percent of the women had been pregnant; those not married at the time they got pregnant generally got married soon after. Of the girls who got pregnant while in school, 90 percent had to drop out of school. A second consequence of low contraceptive use is an increased risk of transmission of STDs and AIDS among the youth of Harare.