Objective: The objective of this study was to examine the receptivity for probiotic products among premenopausal female students in an African university.
Goal: The goal of this study was to determine the local knowledge in Nigeria of probiotics and the willingness of young women to use them should they be introduced.
Study: Closed-ended questionnaires were administered to a sample of 280 participants and these addressed age, marital status, perceived risk of HIV infection for the next 3 years, and history of urogenital infections. The participants were also asked whether they would welcome a probiotic product in oral/vaginal form and in milk-based food products, willingness to purchase and use, how often they would use these products, preference of form, price, and where they would like to buy the products. The second questionnaire was open-ended. It asked the participants to freely list any concerns or worries they had in relation to probiotic products.
Results: Of the 280 participants, 55.3% indicated that they believed they were at risk of acquiring HIV within the next 3 years, illustrating the enormity of the problem in Africa and the feelings among women that they cannot easily control sexual relationships and have partners use condoms. Eighty-two percent of the subjects stated they would welcome probiotic products in capsular form for vaginal instillation or to be taken orally to improve vaginal health. Over one third (36%) of women indicated they would be willing to use the probiotic products as part of their daily self-care. One hundred nine (39.6%) respondents were willing to purchase the probiotic products at a reasonable price of US $0.08 per dose, whereas 71.5% were willing to pay up to US $0.38. Some subjects (25%) raised some concern over safety of probiotics.
Conclusions: The findings revealed that female university students are receptive to probiotic products in Nigeria and indicate strongly a need to consider women’s concerns about urogenital health. Furthermore, the study identified a need for appropriate educational materials about probiotics, including benefits and safety information, in an African country suffering severely from the HIV epidemic.