Reproductive Coercion: A Systematic Review

Trauma Violence Abuse. 2018 Oct;19(4):371-390. doi: 10.1177/1524838016663935. Epub 2016 Aug 16.


Reproductive coercion is a behavior that interferes with the autonomous decision-making of a woman, with regard to reproductive health. It may take the form of birth control sabotage, pregnancy coercion, or controlling the outcome of a pregnancy. The objectives of this article are to address the questions: (1) What is known about reproductive coercion, its prevalence, and correlates? (2) What strategies do women use to preserve their reproductive autonomy when experiencing reproductive coercion? (3) What interventions are effective to decrease reproductive coercion? In this review of 27 research studies, 12 contained findings regarding the general phenomenon of reproductive coercion and 19 contained findings about at least one component of reproductive coercion. Additionally, 11 studies contained findings related to the intersection of intimate partner violence (IPV) and reproductive coercion, 6 presented data on strategies women use to resist reproductive coercion, and 3 included intervention data. Variation in measurement makes synthesis of prevalence and correlate data challenging. The reviewed literature presents reproductive coercion as a phenomenon that disproportionately affects women experiencing concurrent IPV, women of lower socioeconomic status, single women, and African American, Latina and multiracial women. Women who experience reproductive coercion were found to present frequently for certain health services. Most data on reproductive coercion are descriptive, and there is need for further research to examine the co-occurrence with related phenomena such as IPV and unintended pregnancy. More research is also needed on the strategies women use to resist reproductive coercion as well as interventions aimed at survivors and perpetrators of reproductive coercion and health-care providers who encounter them.

Keywords: contraception; domestic violence; intimate partner violence; pregnancy; reproductive coercion; sexual violence; unwanted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced / psychology
  • Abortion, Induced / statistics & numerical data
  • Coercion*
  • Contraception / methods
  • Contraception / psychology
  • Contraception / statistics & numerical data
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intimate Partner Violence / ethnology
  • Intimate Partner Violence / psychology*
  • Intimate Partner Violence / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Unplanned
  • Reproductive Rights*
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology