The study sought to comprehend the significance of family planning from the standpoint of women of reproductive age and identify their perceptions about the care received and the partner's participation in the decisions about the use of contraceptive methods. It is a descriptive study using a qualitative approach, conducted with 24 women who participated in the Family Planning program in a Basic Family Health Unit in Fortaleza, State of Ceará, Brazil, between August and October 2007. The information gleaned from interviews was recorded, organized into themes and analyzed on the basis of the concept of significance of symbolic interactionism. The results revealed three significant themes: the significance of family planning from the viewpoint of women of fertile age; interactions of women of fertile age in a family planning service; and male participation in family planning in terms of female significance. It was revealed that the significance of family planning for these women is related to avoiding pregnancy and according to values pertaining to their cultural, economic and social reality. The care is received in an isolated manner, without prioritizing women's needs and without input of an educational or empowerment stamp.