The aim was to study the contraceptive patterns among men and women in León, Nicaragua. A questionnaire about sexual, contraceptive, reproductive and socioeconomic issues was directed to 7,789 households including 22% of all women of the municipality aged 15–49 years (n = 10,867). A subsample of 388 men and 413 women aged 15–49 years was drawn at random. Refusals were less than 2%. Private interviews revealed that among fertile women who had been sexually active within the last three months, non-pregnant and wishing to avoid pregnancy, 77% were contracepting. Female sterilization was the most common contraceptive method (39%), followed by intrauterine device (16%). Even though around 60% of women at some time had tried oral contraceptives, only 13% of contraceptors used them currently. The rhythm and interruption methods together constituted only 4%. Condom use was low and mainly occasional. Contraceptive use in sexually active women aged 15–44 years was lower among those having lower education, living in rural areas, and living under poverty conditions. The predominance of female sterilization and the occasional condom use—mainly reported by men—reflects a situation of relative male control over contraception and reproduction. This probably originates from “machista” values where men having many children with different women are considered strong. There was also a significantly higher use of contraceptives among the better-off women and men compared with the extremely poor. The situation of many poor women, in a country with limited contraceptive services, is worrving considering that abortion is illegal and the threat of HIV epidemic is growing. The situation for adolescents is particularly problematic with low experience in contraceptive use.