Objective: To evaluate the cultural and socioeconomic factors that may influence family planning decisions in Latinas attending a community health center. Methods: Contraceptive choices made by medically underserved Latinas attending a federally funded community health clinic were surveyed, and the societal, religious, economic, and community factors that affect their use were evaluated. Results: In a cohort of 97 Latinas, almost one third were not using birth control, and those using birth control often chose nonhormonal methods. Early pregnancy was desired by this cohort, with 72 women (84%) reporting that 25 years or younger was an ideal age for a first pregnancy; 81 women (89 %) indicated having children was an extremely important goal for them. Conclusions: Contraceptive use was lower than the national average in this cohort of mainly Spanish-speaking Latinas, with most of the women using methods considered not as efficacious as hormonal ones. These data suggest that initial counseling for young Latinas, especially for those who may not be acclimated to U.S. culture as evidenced by their preference for counseling in Spanish, should focus on how to optimally prepare for planning and spacing of pregnancies rather than on how to prevent pregnancy. Counseling that emphasizes only birth control options and not pregnancy concerns should be employed after desired family size is reached.
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