Religious Variations in Perceived Infertility and Inconsistent Contraceptive Use Among Unmarried Young Adults in the United States



      In this paper, we examine associations among personal religiosity, perceived infertility, and inconsistent contraceptive use among unmarried young adults (ages 18–29).


      The data for this investigation came from the National Survey of Reproductive and Contraceptive Knowledge (n = 1,695). We used multinomial logistic regression to model perceived infertility, adjusted probabilities to model rationales for perceived infertility, and binary logistic regression to model inconsistent contraceptive use.


      Evangelical Protestants were more likely than non-affiliates to believe that they were infertile. Among the young women who indicated some likelihood of infertility, evangelical Protestants were also more likely than their other Protestant or non–Christian faith counterparts to believe that they were infertile because they had unprotected sex without becoming pregnant. Although evangelical Protestants were more likely to exhibit inconsistent contraception use than non-affiliates, we were unable to attribute any portion of this difference to infertility perceptions.


      Whereas most studies of religion and health emphasize the salubrious role of personal religiosity, our results suggest that evangelical Protestants may be especially likely to hold misconceptions about their fertility. Because these misconceptions fail to explain higher rates of inconsistent contraception use among evangelical Protestants, additional research is needed to understand the principles and motives of this unique religious community.


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