Who takes responsibility for contraception, according to young Australian women?

Sex Reprod Healthc. 2018 Mar:15:2-9. doi: 10.1016/j.srhc.2017.11.001. Epub 2017 Nov 6.


Objective: Developments in reversible forms of female contraception are more advanced than developments in male contraception - which are still limited to the condom. These technological advancements have arguably shaped views around who should take responsibility for contraception. We investigate the notion that responsibility relates to gender-specific contraceptives.

Methods: We aimed to explore young women's reports of contraceptive responsibility based on the last time they had sex, using demographic and free-text data from 1906 women who completed a longitudinal survey about contraceptive use. We analysed four patterns of responsibility: the woman took responsibility; the sexual partner took responsibility; both took responsibility; neither took responsibility.

Results: Our quantitative analyses found significant differences between the four groups on the following variables: contraceptive use at last sex, relationship status, ever been pregnant, parity, and medical consultations for contraception in the past six months. Our qualitative analysis identified distinct variability within and between the four patterns of responsibility in terms of contraceptive use and gender responsible.

Conclusions: These findings challenge the gendered portrayal of contraceptive responsibility, in that women's responsibility is not necessarily tied to women-specific methods and vice versa. We encourage increased dialogue around contraceptive responsibility and decision-making in both clinical and educational settings.

Keywords: Birth control; Contraceptive responsibility; Mixed methods research; Young women.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Australia
  • Communication*
  • Condoms*
  • Contraception Behavior*
  • Contraception*
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Men
  • Self Report
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Sexual Partners
  • Women
  • Young Adult