Nav: Home

Domestic violence deters contraception

March 31, 2015

Domestic violence takes many forms. The control of a woman's reproductive choices by her partner is one of them. A major study published in PLOS One, led by McGill PhD student Lauren Maxwell, showed that women who are abused by their partner or ex-partner are much less likely to use contraception; this exposes them to sexually transmitted diseases and leads to more frequent unintended pregnancies and abortions. These findings could influence how physicians provide contraceptive counselling.

Negotiating for contraception

A striking result was that when they do use contraception, women who experience intimate partner violence - physical or sexual - are less likely to use condoms. Instead, they often resort to contraceptive methods that they don't need to negotiate with their partners: for example, contraceptive injections or sterilisation in developing countries, or intrauterine devices in Western countries.

These findings come from an analysis synthesizing the best studies existing on the subject, mostly done in the US, as well as in India, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Nicaragua. The results suggest more than a mere correlation, indicating that partner violence has a causal effect on women's use of contraception. The research team selected studies that took into account other potential factors and studies in which questions on violence were always asked before questions on contraception.

"When talking to abused women, I had often heard them mention they were opting for contraception methods their male partner could not refuse," Maxwell says. "I wanted to know whether, across countries, women who experience intimate partner violence are less able to use contraception, which might explain why rates of abortion and HIV transmission are higher among women abused by their partners." In African countries, women who experience partner violence are three times more likely to contract HIV than women who do not, according to studies cited by the World Health Organisation.

Implications for contraceptive counselling

This study indicates global efforts to improve access to contraception, like the Family Planning 2020 initiative recently announced by the United Nations, need to take domestic violence into account. One of the Millennium Development Goals set by the UN in 2000 was to achieve universal access to reproductive health by 2015. "We have not met our targets in terms of access to contraception," Maxwell says. "This is detrimental to maternal and child health and to women's education. To improve both, we should consider partner violence when creating programs designed to improve women's access to contraception."

For example, some NGOs involve male partners in contraceptive counselling. This research suggests it is important to screen for intimate partner violence before including men in the conversation around contraception. If not, the presence of violent partners could undermine efforts to offer women contraception.

These research findings also have implications for medical training. It is important to train healthcare providers, so family doctors, Ob/Gyns, nurses and midwives can screen their patients for domestic violence. It would improve detection of a phenomenon that has a major impact on women's health and lives.
-end-
Estimating the Effect of Intimate Partner Violence on Women's Use of Contraception: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.
Maxwell L, Devries K, Zionts D, Alhusen JL, Campbell J
(2015) PLoS ONE 10(2): e0118234. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0118234
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0118234

Study co-authors included Karen Devries (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK); Danielle Zionts (McGill University, Canada); Jacquelyn Campbell and Jeanne L. Alhusen (Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, USA). This study was supported by the Maternal and Child Health Equity Project (MACHEquity), funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

mcgill.ca/newsroom

twitter.com/McGilluMedia

McGill University

Related Domestic Violence Articles:

UC3M researchers analyze link between employment status and domestic violence
Researchers from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) have carried out a study that analyzes sociodemographic characteristics related to gender-based violence.
New Penn research examines gun use, injury and fear in domestic violence
About 2 percent of domestic-violence incidents involve guns, according to new research from Susan B.
Why baboon males resort to domestic violence
Some baboon males vying for a chance to father their own offspring expedite matters in a gruesome way -- they kill infants sired by other males and attack pregnant females, causing them to miscarry, researchers report.
Chapman Perelman Foundation domestic violence gift awarded to Columbia Psychiatry
The Chapman Perelman Foundation has contributed $1 million to Columbia University Medical Center's Department of Psychiatry to expand an initiative that provides mental health services to victims of domestic violence.
Social work professor's domestic violence project wins major national award
A project which aims to prevent domestic violence in the Caribbean has won a national award for public engagement.
More Domestic Violence News and Domestic Violence Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#534 Bacteria are Coming for Your OJ
What makes breakfast, breakfast? Well, according to every movie and TV show we've ever seen, a big glass of orange juice is basically required. But our morning grapefruit might be in danger. Why? Citrus greening, a bacteria carried by a bug, has infected 90% of the citrus groves in Florida. It's coming for your OJ. We'll talk with University of Maryland plant virologist Anne Simon about ways to stop the citrus killer, and with science writer and journalist Maryn McKenna about why throwing antibiotics at the problem is probably not the solution. Related links: A Review of the Citrus Greening...