Male partner reproductive coercion among women veterans

Elian A. Rosenfeld, Elizabeth Miller, Xinhua Zhao, Florentina E. Sileanu, Maria K. Mor, Sonya Borrero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: Male partner reproductive coercion is defined as male partners' attempts to promote pregnancy through interference with women's contraceptive behaviors and reproductive decision-making. Male partners may try to promote pregnancy through birth control sabotage such as taking away or destroying their partners' contraceptives, refusing to wear condoms, and/or verbally pressuring their partners to abstain from contraceptive use. Reproductive coercion is associated with an elevated risk for unintended pregnancy. Women who experience intimate partner violence, who are in racial/ethnic minorities, and who are of lower socioeconomic status are more likely to experience reproductive coercion. Women veterans who use Veterans Affairs for health care may be particularly vulnerable to reproductive coercion because they are disproportionally from racial/ethnic minority groups and experience high rates of intimate partner violence. Objectives: We sought to examine the prevalence, correlates, and impact of reproductive coercion among women veterans who are served by the Veterans Affairs healthcare system. Study Design: We analyzed data from a national telephone survey of women veterans aged 18-44 years, with no history of sterilization or hysterectomy, who had received care within the Veterans Affairs system in the previous 12 months. Participants who had sex with men in the last year were asked if they experienced male partner reproductive coercion. Adjusted logistic regression was used to examine the relationship between participant characteristics and male partner reproductive coercion and the relationship between reproductive coercion and the outcomes of contraceptive method used at last sex and pregnancy and unintended pregnancy in the last year. Results: Among the 1241 women veterans in our study cohort, 11% reported experiencing male partner reproductive coercion in the past year. Black women, younger women, and single women were more likely to report reproductive coercion than their white, older, and married counterparts. Women who experienced military sexual trauma were also more likely to report reproductive coercion compared with women who did not report military sexual trauma. In adjusted analyses, compared with women who did not experience reproductive coercion, those who did were less likely at last sex to have used any method of contraception (76% vs 80%; adjusted odds ratio, 0.61; 95% confidence interval, 0.38-0.96), prescription contraception (43% vs 55%; adjusted odds ratio, 0.62; 95% confidence interval, 0.43-0.91), and their ideal method of contraception (35% vs 45%; adjusted odds ratio, 0.63; 95% confidence interval, 0.43-0.93). Those who reported coercion were more likely to have had a pregnancy in the last year (14% vs 10%; adjusted odds ratio, 2.07; 95% confidence interval, 1.17-3.64); there were no significant differences in unintended pregnancy by coercion status (6% vs 4%; adjusted odds ratio, 1.63; 95% confidence interval, 0.71-3.76). Conclusion: Eleven percent of women veterans in our sample experienced male partner reproductive coercion, which may impact their use of contraception and ability to prevent pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Contraception
  • Reproductive coercion
  • VA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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