Population Research and Policy Review 19: 29–45, 2000.
© 2000 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
Spousal communication and contraceptive use among the Yoruba
BAMIKALE J. FEYISETAN
Policy Research Division, Population Council, New York, USA
Abstract. A noted feature of many less developed societies is that marital partners hardly
discuss reproductive issues with the result that decisions on these issues are usually taken by
men and their kinsmen. Because of lack of spousal communication, negotiation for individual
reproductive preferences has been limited. Thus, the reproductive preferences of men who
desire larger family sizes and oppose contraceptive use have usually been found to prevail.
The need to encourage husband-wife communication about reproductive issues cannot be
overemphasized. The present study examines the level of spousal communication and its
impact on contraceptive use among Yoruba couples in southwest Nigeria. Data for the study
are obtained from a survey on the Role of Men in Family Planning conducted in one of the
states inhabited by the Yoruba of Nigeria – Ondo. The sample for this study consists of 381
monogamously married couples. Multivariate analyses were used to determine the impact of
background variables on dependent variables. The study shows that fairly high percentages
of men and women perceive that decisions on reproductive issues are taken jointly by both
partners. The signiﬁcantly high proportion of women who perceive that they participate in
decision making is particularly worth noting and is an indication that women’s voices are
heard in the study society. Although the impact decreases on controlling for other variables,
spousal communication was found to affect contraceptive use: contraceptive is higher among
marital partners who discuss and take joint decisions on contraception. The study also reveals
that family planning counseling has a signiﬁcant impact on contraceptive use.
Keywords: Contraceptive use, Family planning counseling, Reproductive issues, Spousal
In patriarchal societies, men play important roles as heads of their house-
holds, the custodians of the interests of their lineage and bread winners. By
the nature of these societies, men control land and other economic resources
while their wives are expected to depend on them for almost all matters.
In spite of modernization factors which have facilitated the emergence of
nuclear families that operate outside the conﬁnes of the traditional extended
family control, family life in male dominated societies is still guided by norm-
ative principles, institutions and beliefs that vary from one place to another.
Because the signiﬁcant inﬂuence which men exert over reproductive issues