"Since I'm a little bit more mature": contraception and the arc of time for women in midlife

Womens Midlife Health. 2021 Apr 9;7(1):3. doi: 10.1186/s40695-021-00062-7.


Background: Contraceptive methods have rapidly evolved over the past several decades, but little research has explored how women interact with contraception over time. Exploring contraceptive beliefs, perceptions, and attitudes of women in midlife can reveal much about how lived experience affects contraceptive decisions and reproductive health choices.

Methods: Individual, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 women between the ages of 40 and 55 who had not reached menopause and did not have a permanent method of sterilization. Data were coded using qualitative descriptive methods.

Results: Three major themes were identified: 1) journey toward empowerment; 2) finding the right fit: evolution over time; and 3) anticipating a transition. Past experiences with or fear of side effects and hormones were common reasons to change or avoid certain contraceptive methods. Most participants were happy with their contraceptive method; however, those who were unhappy were more likely to vocalize fatigue at continuing to need contraception as menopause approached.

Conclusion: Approaching contraceptive counseling from a place that considers the journey with contraception over a reproductive life span will help identify how beliefs, perceptions, and attitudes of women affect their contraceptive practices and choices.

Keywords: Contraception; Menopause; Middle aged; Qualitative research; Reproductive health.