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Health care system contributes to women shouldering burdens of preventing pregnancy

Photo: Image Point Fr/

A study published in the Journal of Sex Research finds that during contraceptive counseling visits, clinicians normalized and legitimized women assuming the mental and emotional burdens of contraception. In fact, they regularly expressed doubt or surprise or even dismissed women’s desire not to have children in the future. As a result, clinicians promoted contraceptive methods that would preserve fertility—but also require women to continue to shoulder the work of maintaining these methods—rather than sterilization procedures.

The study also argues that making the mental and emotional burdens of pregnancy prevention more equitable across genders—even as the physical burden of contraception is likely to remain women’s—can enable women and their partners to better achieve their reproductive desires. Currently, even in situations involving highly effective male contraceptive methods, such as vasectomy, women often wind up assuming responsibility for learning about the method, navigating the health care system, and serving as a liaison between their partner and clinicians.

Visit the Journal of Sex Research website for the full article.