“Happy accident?” Couples’ reproductive decision-making and the role of gender, power and reproductive autonomy in the Netherlands.

View knowledge product

This project aims to explore individuals’ abilities to achieve their desired reproductive goals by gaining a better understanding of couples’ reproductive decision-making processes, with specific attention to the role of gender, power, and reproductive autonomy. Conventional conceptualizations of reproductive autonomy often focus solely on females, neglecting the contribution of men and the dynamics within couples that influence fertility outcomes. While there is a growing recognition of the need to involve men in reproductive health and fertility research, there still exists a knowledge and attention gap regarding the significance of couple dynamics in reproductive decision-making processes.

This project seeks to address these overlooked perspectives by explicitly focusing on couple dynamics and their impact on reproductive autonomy and decision-making processes, thereby influencing fertility outcomes. By delving into couple interactions, such as communication and power dynamics, the study aims to uncover how these factors shape the reproductive choices of couples.

One of the key findings of this research was that couples often struggle to discuss their fertility desires, particularly when their desires diverge. Challenges arise when partners resort to interpreting each other’s nonverbal cues and making assumptions about their partner’s wishes, leading to miscommunication and tension. Additionally, finding an opportune moment for such discussions or knowing the right questions to ask can also pose difficulties for couples. To address these issues, researchers have developed ‘conversation game cards’ (in Dutch) to facilitate meaningful discussions between partners. This card game will be available in the future for the Netherlands.

Additionally, this podcast episode (in Dutch) is available to learn more:

Knowledge product details

  • Small Grants

  • 2022

  • Netherlands

  • Fertility and/or infertility

  • Gender

  • Relationships

  • Share-Net Netherlands

  • Dutch

  • English

  • Communication tool

  • Research

KP creators involved

Download Knowledge Products

Reflection on relevance for high-fertility contexts: This reflection (English) explains the study approach, main findings and resulting tool that was developed for couples in the Netherlands. Then, it discusses to what extent the findings and the resulting tool could be applicable to couples in other contexts, particularly high-fertility contexts.

KP creators involved

University of Groningen - Rijksuniversiteit Groningen

The University of Groningen is an internationally oriented university with a rich academic tradition. Since its establishment in 1614, the university has brought forward striving academics, like the first female student, the first Dutch astronaut and various Nobel prize winners.