Men Bring Condoms, Women Take Pills: Men's and Women's Role in Contraceptive Decision-Making

Julie Fennell, Gallaudet University

From both a legal perspective and an academic and theoretical perspective, American men’s role in the fertility and contraceptive decision-making process is unclear. Many academics and lay people both assume that men are uninterested in and uninformed about contraception, but this assumption has largely remained untested. This paper explores what men perceive their role in the contraceptive decision-making process to be and what women perceive and want men's role to be. Interviews were conducted with 30 American male-female young adult couples in long-term relationships. Results find that many men are informed, involved, and committed contraceptors. They are more likely to discuss contraception with their long-term partners than with short-term partners, but they are often still insecure about asking women to use hormonal birth control in long-term relationships. Consequently, women often perceive men as unconcerned. Technology and accompanying socialization has created unequal contraceptive access for men and women.

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Presented in Session 95: Romantic and Sexual Relationships