Adolescence is a period characterized by the onset of primary sexual characteristic changes (that is, the growth and maturation of the reproductive structures such as fallopian tubes, uterus and vagina in females, penis and testes in males) and secondary sexual characteristic changes (such as breast growth, appearance and increase in pubic hair, appearance of facial hair in males, voice change and changes in body shape). Accompanying these changes in anatomical maleness and femaleness are physiological changes that lead to potential realization of the reproductive role. These physiological changes include menstruation and ovulation in the female and the beginning of sperm production in male. (Chiwuzie and Akpakpan, 2001)
At the onset of puberty, however, the adolescent has learnt that he or she is a boy or a girl and looks forward to becoming a man or a woman. He can become comfortable and confident about his developing capacity to be aroused and respond erotically. At this stage, he is preparing to engage in meaningful interpersonal relationships. At the same time, adolescents experience strong, often conflicting emotions and social pressures as they move away from childhood dependence towards more independent adulthood. Most of them are unprepared for the situations they face. As a result, young people’s decisions and sexual activities during their transition to adulthood can affect the rest of their lives.
Most of the serious reproductive health problems among youths especially the adolescents have been attributed to ignorance, misinformation, superstitious beliefs, conservative attitudes and high risk sexual behaviour (Ladipo et al., 1996 and Amazigo et al., 1997). For instance, demographic health survey in Colombia, 1990, revealed that the median age at first sexual intercourse is 20 years, and similar survey in Nigeria at the same period was 16.6 years (McCauley and Salter, 1995).
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN KNOWLEDGE OF REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH AND CONTRACEPTIVE USE AMONG TERTIARY INSTITUTIONS STUDENTS IN NIGER STATE