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Covert use of reversible contraceptive methods and its association with husband’s egalitarian gender attitude in India
Authors: Minakshi Vishwakarma, and Chander Shekhar
Source: BMC Public Health, Volume 22, issue 460; DOI:
Topic(s): Contraception
Family planning
Country: Asia
Published: MAR 2022
Abstract: Background: In a patriarchal society, women often keep their use of contraceptives secret in order to meet their reproductive goals and satisfy their reproductive preferences. Nevertheless, to our knowledge, women’s covert contraceptive use and its association with husband’s gender attitude have not been studied in the Indian settings. The present study estimates the extent of covert modern contraceptive use (CCU) among women and its linkage with husbands’ gender attitudes in India. Methods: The study is based on fecund and monogamous couples using modern, reversible contraceptive methods. The numbers of such couples were 4,825 and 7,824 in the national family health surveys 2005–06 and 2015–16 respectively. The outcome variable in the study was CCU, while the independent variables were husband’s gender attitude, women’s education, freedom of mobility, freedom to spend money independently, surviving number of children, concordance regarding additional children, couple-level information such as age and educational gap between spouses, and some socioeconomic status (SES) variables. We used latent class analysis to measure the gender attitude and used bivariate descriptive analysis and multivariate binary logistic regression to assess the linkages between husband’s gender attitude and CCU. Results: This study found that the prevalence of CCU increased from 15% in 2005–06 to 27% in 2015–16. In both the time periods, contraceptive pills were the most preferred covert method, followed by intrauterine device (IUD). The results of the multivariate logistic regression show that women with husbands of moderate and low egalitarian gender attitudes were, respectively, 50% and 40% more likely to hide their contraceptive use than those with husbands of a high gender attitude. Women’s education, wealth index, number of living children, and region of residence were also found to be significantly associated with CCU. Conclusion: The study reveals that husband’s low egalitarian gender attitude can be a potential barrier between spouses, preventing them from opening up about their fertility preferences and contraceptive needs to each other. A couple-oriented approach to family planning is needed so that both members of a couple can satisfy their fertility desires and preferences eventually.