The browser you are using is not supported by this website. All versions of Internet Explorer are no longer supported, either by us or Microsoft (read more here:

Please use a modern browser to fully experience our website, such as the newest versions of Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari etc.

Photo of Marie Larsson

Marie Larsson

Doctoral student

Photo of Marie Larsson

The Work of Contracepting : Young people's experiences and practices with contraceptives in Sweden

Preventivmetodsarbete : Unga personers erfarenheter och praktiker kring preventivmetoder i Sverige


  • Marie Larsson

Summary, in English

Contraception is a complex phenomenon with differing meanings, expressions, and materialities depending on its historical, social, and cultural context. In this thesis, I depart from the conceptualisation of contraception as the prevention of both pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and I name these practices through the collective term of contracepting.

Previous research on young people and contraceptives has centred on cis women and, to a lesser extent, men who have sex with men. Studies on young people and contraceptives tend to focus on use and choice-making, with an emphasis on the medical risks that these may pose. The sociological and more critical studies on contraceptives largely emerge from the US context, and usually separate pregnancy and STI prevention efforts, which is problematic as it obscures the fact that many young people are or have been concerned with both of those elements of contraception. The Swedish context presents some similar criticalities, as there are extremely few studies that explore contraceptive use and experiences beyond the medical sphere, and even fewer that look beyond the practices of cisgender women. More critical and sociological studies are needed to explore how young people with various gender and sexual identities experience contracepting practices.

This dissertation contributes to the literature on contraceptives by drawing on the stories and accounts generated from 27 interviews with 13 women, men, and non-binary people aged 18 to 29, with different sexual identities living in Sweden, and who had some experience with pregnancy and/or STI prevention. The aim of this research project has been to explore young people’s diverse practices and experiences with pregnancy and STI prevention (i.e. contracepting). Participants’ stories and accounts were analysed through a critical, relational lens and based on a conceptual understanding of contracepting as involving multifaceted work. Analytical leads were identified using a broadly thematic approach, further influenced by narrative inquiry and critical optimism.

My main empirical contributions highlight that participants described doing different elements of the work of contracepting across different relational contexts and in relation to a range of actors. First, I explored the important role friends played in these practices, followed by the possibilities and challenges detailed by young people of trying to negotiate sharing the work of contracepting in longer-term sexual relationships. Through my analysis, I also found that contracepting as a young person in Sweden involved a great deal of work around becoming informed and making contraceptive choices.

Ultimately, participants’ stories and accounts of contracepting highlight the ongoing, everyday work often involved in pregnancy and STI prevention. Contracepting as a young person in Sweden involves considerable negotiation and navigation of interpersonal relationships and relationalities with a range of actors, including others’ ideas, thoughts, feelings, understandings, and beliefs about what are right/wrong, in/appropriate, un/reasonable, un/fair, and ir/rational contraceptive practices across a multitude of different situations.

Through this study, I cast light on activities and efforts that often remain invisible and unrecognised, but that are integral parts of young people’s contracepting experiences and practices. The conceptual understanding and lens of contracepting as work has been key in this endeavour and provides an important shift in perspective. Through this critical relational lens, different conversations and imaginations are made possible, illustrating that there is more that can be done to make the work of contracepting easier, less burdensome, more shareable, more enjoyable, and fairer for all.


  • Sociology

Publishing year




Document type



Lund University


  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)


  • Contraceptives
  • Contraception
  • Work
  • Pregnancy prevention
  • STI prevention
  • Young people
  • Sweden
  • Relationality
  • Feminist theory
  • Technoscience
  • Qualitative methods
  • Preventivmedel
  • Preventivmetoder
  • Arbete
  • Graviditetsprevention
  • STI prevention
  • unga vuxna
  • Sverige
  • relationellt perspektiv
  • feministisk teori
  • Teknovetenskap
  • kvalitativa metoder




  • The work of contracepting: young people's experiences and practices with contraceptives in Sweden.


  • Carl-Göran Heidegren
  • Veronika Burcar Alm


  • ISBN: 978-91-8039-854-1
  • ISBN: 978-91-8039-853-4

Defence date

19 December 2023

Defence time


Defence place

Socialhögskolans hörsal Sh128, Allhelgona kyrkogata 8, Lund


  • Petra Nordqvist (Senior lecturer)