Journal Article

Fertility regulation as identity maintenance: Understanding the social aspects of birth control

We take a dialogical approach to exploring fertility regulation practices and show how they can maintain or express social identity. We identify three themes in educated Ghanaian women’s accounts of how they navigate conflicting social demands on their identity when trying to regulate fertility: secrecy and silence—hiding contraception use and avoiding talking about it; tolerating uncertainty—such as using unreliable but more socially acceptable contraception; and wanting to be fertile and protecting menses. Family planning programmes that fail to tackle such social-psychological obstacles to regulating fertility will risk reproducing social spaces where women struggle to claim their reproductive rights.