Studies show that health education and better access to temporary contraceptives decreases the popularity of sterilization and that most Indian women report no knowledge/no use of other contraceptives prior to sterilization. However, data from this survey of 169 Indian urban and rural women demonstrates that poor women chose sterilization more for personal and socio-economic reasons (low income, dissatisfaction with other methods, achieved parity, poor health and living conditions) than for lack of awareness of other contraceptives. Urban women were significantly more likely to have tried one or more forms of available contraceptives, while rural women were significantly more likely to be unaware of other available methods (p < 0.001). Literacy was significantly associated with contraceptive use in both urban and rural groups (p < 0.01). At least one child of each sex was desired. A need for improvement of literacy, health education programs, and enhanced family planning services for rural women was evident.