Contraceptive medicalisation, fear of infertility and teenage pregnancy in Brazil.


Goncalves, H; Souza, AD; Tavares, PA; Cruz, SH; Behague, DP; (2010) Contraceptive medicalisation, fear of infertility and teenage pregnancy in Brazil. Culture, health & sexuality, 13 (2). pp. 201-15. ISSN 1369-1058 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13691058.2010.521576

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Abstract

In Brazil, as in many other countries, teenage pregnancy is widely recognised as a public health problem. Buttressed by a public health science of the economics of teenage pregnancy that emphasises the postponement of parenthood as key to poverty reduction, young people's lack of appreciation for medical knowledge of contraceptives is most often credited for failed attempts to reduce teenage pregnancy. Based on a longitudinal ethnographic study conducted in Pelotas, Brazil, with young people over the course of 10 years, our study found that young women who became teenage parents did not lack medical knowledge but were, rather, highly medicalised. Not only were they intensely concerned with the ill-effects of oral contraceptives on possible future fertility, they also engaged in intricate routines of contraceptive-use as a way of testing and safeguarding their fecundity. Our analysis attends to the way these practices are shaped by the problematisation of the economics of teenage pregnancy, as well as by the gendering of cultural norms relating to the transition to adulthood. We theorise the results by considering how contraceptive medicalisation enabled some women to engage with the authority of normative society, while developing a potent off-stage critique of this authority and of what they considered to be discriminatory messages imbedded in scientific discourses on teenage pregnancy.

Item Type: Article
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health > Dept of Infectious Disease Epidemiology
Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health > Dept of Population Health (2012- ) > Dept of Nutrition and Public Health Interventions Research (2003-2012)
Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health > Dept of Population Health (2012- )
PubMed ID: 20972914
Web of Science ID: 285509600006
URI: http://researchonline.lshtm.ac.uk/id/eprint/1878

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