In-depth interviews were conducted with married Asian women from Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds, to investigate patterns of contraceptive use and influences on contraceptive decision making. The results show two distinctively different contraceptive ‘lifecycles’. Non-professional women typically have little knowledge about contraception until after their marriage or first birth. Their patterns of contraceptive behaviour show low levels of contraceptive use until after their first birth, when condom use is most prevalent. Non-professional women are influenced by their extended family, religion and cultural expectations on their fertility and family planning decisions. Professional women show an entirely different pattern of contraceptive behaviour. They are more likely to have knowledge about contraception before marriage, use some method of contraception throughout their childbearing years (typically the pill) and cite personal, practical or economic considerations in their fertility decisions rather than religious, cultural or extended family influences.
Journal of Biosocial Science (1999) 31 537-554