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Evidence of contraception exists in some of the earliest written records. The practice of contraception is as old as human existence. For centuries, humans have relied on their imagination to avoid pregnancy. Ancient writings noted on the Kahun papyrus dating to 1850 BC refer to contraceptive techniques using a vaginal pessary of crocodile dung and fermented dough, which most likely created a hostile environment for sperm. The Kahun papyrus also refers to vaginal plugs of gum, honey, and acacia. During the early second century in Rome, Soranus of Ephesus created a highly acidic concoction of fruits, nuts, and wool that was placed at the cervical os to create a spermicidal barrier (Seregély, 1981). Many birth control methods have been used for hundreds of years: the condom since the 16th century; cervical cap since the 1820s; the diaphragm and vaginal spermicide since the late 19th century; and intrauterine contraceptive devices (IUCDs or IUDs) since the early 20th century. Today, the voluntary control of fertility is of paramount importance to modern society. From a global perspective, countries currently face the crisis of rapid population growth that has begun to threaten human survival. At the present rate, the population of the world will double in 40 years; in several of the more socioeconomically disadvantaged countries, populations will double in less than 20 years (WHO, 2015).
The effort by government and non-governmental agencies to promote the right of women and men to be informed, access and use safe, affordable and effective methods of fertility regulation has yielded only a marginal change over time (Creanga, Gillespie, Karklins & Tsui, 2011); (UNDESA, 2013). For instance, the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Federal Ministry of Health has continually made efforts to ensure widespread knowledge and access to contraceptives through advertisements and jingles in the mass media, incorporation of family planning into some secondary school subjects and distribution of free contraceptives (FMOH, 2013). These efforts resulted in an increase in the proportion of Nigerians who know at least a modern method of contraceptive, but usage has remained very low. Given the significance of contraceptive use for maternal and child health, family and national wellbeing (Sonfield, Hasstedt, Kavanaugh, & Anderson, 2013), the persistent gap between knowledge and use of contraceptives underscores the need for more research, particularly those that focus on couples.
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