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J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2008 Feb;30(2):129-137. doi: 10.1016/S1701-2163(16)32736-0.

Religious and cultural influences on contraception.

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Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Queen's University, Kingston ON.



To elucidate the religious and cultural influences that may affect the acceptance and use of various methods of contraception, including emergency contraception.


Literature searches were conducted to identify religious teachings related to family, sexual relations, and family planning for Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Chinese religious traditions. Religious scholars from each of the major religions were consulted for additional information regarding how various subgroups within that religion may interpret and apply religious teachings in specific circumstances.


Religious and cultural factors have the potential to influence the acceptance and use of contraception by couples from different religious backgrounds in very distinct ways. Within religions, different sects may interpret religious teachings on this subject in varying ways, and individual women and their partners may choose to ignore religious teachings. Cultural factors are equally important in couples' decisions about family size and contraception.


When new immigrants are faced with the challenges of acclimating to a new society and a new way of life, they may anchor strongly to traditional religious and cultural expectations regarding family, sexuality, and fertility. While health care providers must be cautious not to attribute stereotypical religious, social, and cultural characteristics to women seeking advice about contraception, they do need to recognize that different value systems may influence contraception decision-making in couples of different faiths. This increased cultural awareness needs to be tempered by the understanding that each patient encounter is unique. The values that an individual woman holds may not be in keeping with the official teachings of her religion or the cultural norms reported by other members of the same culture.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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