Melbourne School of Population and Global Health - Research Publications

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    Women’s contraceptive decision-making: juggling the needs of the sexual body and the fertile body
    Keogh, Louise A. (The Haworth Press, Inc., 2005)
    The contradictions faced by women in the area of fertility management justify an in-depth qualitative study of contraceptive use. The experience of needing emergency contraception (EC) is an opportunity to study decision-making about fertility management. Thirty two in-depth interviews were conducted with users of EC recruited in Melbourne, Australia. Women were juggling the needs of the sexual body and the fertile body. The sexual body was expected to be available in women’s relationships, and the fertile body required protection from pregnancy in the present and preservation for the future. The needs of these two bodies were very often in conflict and women chose to resolve this conflict in subtly different ways; three strategies were identified. Some women chose to make sexual availability and security from pregnancy a priority; others felt forced to sacrifice sexual availability and security from pregnancy; and a final group chose to make the protection of the fertile body for the future a priority. This study provides a starting point for developing a context-based, woman-centered understanding of the experience of fertility management for women in developed countries.
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    A qualitative study of women's use of emergency contraception
    Keogh, Louise A. ( 2005)
    BACKGROUND: While the use of emergency contraception (EC) is becoming more widespread in Australia, little is known about the reasons for, and the social context of, this use. METHODS: In order to explore the use of EC from the perspective of users, a qualitative study was conducted with women presenting to one of three health care settings in Melbourne, Australia for EC. RESULTS: Thirty-two women ranging in age from 18 to 45 years were interviewed. While a number of themes were discussed with the women, this paper reports on four ‘types of users’ of EC identified from the data. ‘Controllers’ experienced failure of their contraceptive method and were very uncomfortable needing EC. They changed their contraceptive strategy in an attempt to avoid needing EC in the future. ‘Thwarted controllers’ were similar to controllers except that they could not improve their contraceptive strategy due to medical or social limitations. ‘Risk takers’ saw the use of EC as a component of their overall contraceptive strategy. They did not rely on EC regularly, but were comfortable to use it occasionally when the need arose. A final group of women were ‘caught short’ by a sexual experience that was unplanned and therefore they did not manage to use their chosen contraceptive strategy. CONCLUSIONS: The findings from this study challenge the assumptions that are often made about the users of EC and highlight the need to acknowledge the different ways that women make sense of, and make decisions about, contraception.