Single photons are of paramount importance to future quantum technologies, including quantum communication and computation. Nonlinear photonic devices using parametric processes offer a straightforward route to generating photons, however additional nonlinear processes may come into play and interfere with these sources. Here we analyse spontaneous four-wave mixing (SFWM) sources in the presence of multi-photon processes. We conduct experiments in silicon and gallium indium phosphide photonic crystal waveguides which display inherently different nonlinear absorption processes, namely two-photon (TPA) and three-photon absorption (ThPA), respectively. We develop a novel model capturing these diverse effects which is in excellent quantitative agreement with measurements of brightness, coincidence-to-accidental ratio (CAR) and second-order correlation function g (2) (0), showing that TPA imposes an intrinsic limit on heralded single photon sources. We build on these observations to devise a new metric, the quantum utility (QMU), enabling further optimisation of single photon sources.