'The wife should do as her husband advises': Understanding factors influencing contraceptive use decision making among married Pakistani couples-Qualitative study

PLoS One. 2023 Feb 16;18(2):e0277173. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0277173. eCollection 2023.


This paper explores the perceptions and attitudes of married couples which prevent them from using modern contraceptive for purpose of family planning, based on semi-structured interviews with 16 married couples from rural Pakistan. This study, with married couples, not using any modern contraceptives, discussed issues of spousal communication and religious norms using qualitative methods. Despite near universal knowledge of modern contraceptives among married Pakistani women, the use continues to be low, with high unmet need. Understanding the couple context about reproductive decision making, pregnancy and family planning intentions is imperative to helping individuals fulfil their reproductive desires. Married couples may have varying intentions and desires about family size; a lack of alignment between partners may lead to unintended pregnancies and affect uptake and use of contraception. This study specifically explored the factors which prevent married couples from using LARCs for family planning, despite their availability, at affordable prices in the study area of rural Islamabad, Pakistan. Findings show differences between concordant and discordant couples regarding desired family size, contraceptive communication and influence of religious beliefs. Understanding the role that male partners play in family planning and use of contraceptives is important in preventing unintended pregnancies and improving service delivery programmes. This study also helped identify the challenges married couples, particularly men have in understanding family planning and contraceptive use. The results also show that while men's participation in family planning decision making is limited, there is also a lack of programs and interventions for Pakistani men. The study findings can support development of appropriate strategies and implementation plans.

MeSH terms

  • Contraception
  • Contraception Behavior
  • Contraceptive Agents*
  • Decision Making
  • Family Planning Services / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Men
  • Pakistan
  • Pregnancy
  • Spouses*


  • Contraceptive Agents

Grants and funding

The author(s) received no specific funding for this work.