Iranian Azeri women’s perceptions of unintended pregnancy: A qualitative study

Easa Mohammadi1, Roghaiyeh Nourizadeh, Masoumeh Simbar



Background: Many women, throughout their life cycle, experience unintended pregnancy and its subsequent induced abortion. Nonetheless, women’s perceptions of this phenomenon – particularly in countries prohibiting elective abortion – are poorly known. The aim of this study was to explore Iranian Azeri women’s perceptions of unintended pregnancy.

Materials and Methods: This was a conventional content analysis study conducted in Tabriz, Iran. The data were collected through 31 semi-structured interviews with 23 women who had recently experienced an unintended pregnancy. The study participants were recruited using the purposive sampling method. Sampling started in March 2013 and continued until reaching data saturation, i.e. till August 2013. Data analysis was carried out concurrently with data collection. MAXQDA 10.0 software was employed for managing the study data.

Results: The study data analysis process yielded the formation of three main themes including negative effects of unintended pregnancy on daily life, fear of being stigmatized with violating social norms, and abortion panic, which in turn constituted the broader overarching theme of “threat supposition.” In other words, following an unintended pregnancy, the study participants had experienced different levels of fear and threat depending on their personal, family, and socio-cultural backgrounds.

Conclusions: Women perceive unintended pregnancy as a challenging and threatening situation. An unintended pregnancy can threaten women’s lives through social deprivations, growing instability, and putting both mother and baby at risk for physical and psychosocial problems. On the other hand, an unsafe illegal abortion could have potentially life-threatening complications. To cope with such a situation, women need strong social support. Healthcare providers can fulfill such women’s need for support by developing pre-abortion counseling services and providing them with professional counseling. Also, strengthening women’s support system by policy-makers is recommended.

Key words: Abortion, Iran, qualitative research, unwanted pregnancy, women’s experience

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