Embodied expertise: women's perceptions of the contraception consultation

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This research, based on qualitative interviews and non-participant observation, emerges from a larger study investigating what factors influence the ‘contraceptive careers’ of British women in their 30s. The women informants recognized that contraceptive products often impacted on their health, but viewed them as distinct from ‘medical matters’. Rather than doctors being seen as having expertise, it was women health professionals, be they nurses, midwives, health visitors or doctors, who were perceived as the ones who ‘know’ about contraception, through an assumption that they are contraception users.This embodied knowledge is valued by the women above their formal medical training. I will also show how general practice surgeries and family planning clinics were viewed as gendered spaces, which altered the expectations and experiences of the women during contraceptive consultations. This study found that as ‘real’ expertise over contraception stems from embodied rather than textual knowledge, the women’s choices were grounded by a gendered sense of trust.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-368
Number of pages8
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • contraceptive
  • British women
  • impact on health
  • women health professionals
  • contraception
  • family planning clinics
  • gendered spaces
  • contraceptive consultations
  • gendered trust


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