Journal Article

Infertility, perceived certainty of pregnancy, and contraceptive use in Malawi

Infertility and unintended pregnancy are dual burdens in Malawi, where 41% of pregnancies are unintended and approximately 20% of people report infertility. Although preventing unintended pregnancy has been a focus in public health, infertility has rarely been explored as a factor that may be associated with contraceptive use. Using cross‐sectional survey data (2017–2018; N = 749), we report on the prevalence of and sociodemographic characteristics associated with infertility and certainty of becoming pregnant among women in Malawi. We conducted multivariable logistic regressions examining the relationship between infertility, certainty of becoming pregnant, and contraceptive use. Approximately 16% of women experienced infertility, and three‐quarters (78%) were certain they could become pregnant within one year. Women who experienced infertility had lower odds of contraceptive use than women who did not (Adjusted Odds Ratio [AOR]: 0.56; 95% Conficence Interval [CI]: 0.39–0.83). Women who said there was “no chance” or they were “unlikely” to become pregnant also had lower odds of contraceptive use compared to women who were certain they would become pregnant (AOR: 0.30; 95% CI: 0.10–0.92). Our findings indicate that experiences and perceptions surrounding fertility are associated with contraceptive use, underscoring their importance in understanding how people manage their fertility to reach their reproductive goals.

Published in a peer-reviewed journal of the Population Council.