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Where Do Latinas Get Health Information?

If you ask women from whom they prefer to get information regarding their reproductive health, more often than not they will mention their health care provider. Sure, women talk to their friends and family, but at the end of the day, women seek reliable information from their doctors. Latinas are not any different. According to the 2007 report Latina Health in North Carolina: Knowledge, Attitudes and Practice by the North Carolina Healthy Start Foundation, Latinas will double check information that they hear from family and friends with their healthcare providers. Similarly, a report by the Pew Hispanic Center found that 77% of Hispanic women report getting health information from doctors. This will happen more often when Latinas clients feel comfortable with their healthcare providers and have developed a relationship. When it comes to seeking information about contraception, Latinas want to seek information and counsel from their providers when making decisions about family planning. For this to happen, services need to be accessibly and user friendly.

Cultural Values

In the busy clinic setting, it can be difficult to spend enough time with each client. However, a few extra minutes can make a difference in strengthening your relationship with your Latina client. Consider the following Latino cultural values:

Birth Control PillsBased on these values, it is not surprising that to get information about sensitive topics such as contraception and sexuality, Latinas would turn to someone they trust and respect. For this reason, it is important to build trusting relationships with Latina clients to effectively counsel on contraceptive use. The importance of trusting and cooperative relationships becomes even more important when you consider the complexities faced by many Latinas, especially those who are new to North Carolina.

Latinas' Stories

A recent qualitative project highlights the layers in the lives of Latinas that can complicate the decision of using birth control. The stories of four women are told in Our Voices, Our Health: Latinas Share their Stories. Through in-depth interviews, the researchers found that the lack of knowledge about reproductive health, economic hardship, isolation (physical and language), relationship problems, history of violence, depression, as well as culturally-based gender roles and taboos, all mesh together making the use of contraceptives a complicated endeavor. Although Our Voices highlights a few stories, the main message is that each client you see will have a different story, and it is important to acknowledge where she is coming from and her experiences to help her in the process of making decisions about family planning. There is no "one plan fits all" but the following suggestions may be helpful.

How Can You Help Your Latina Client Choose a Contraceptive Method?

Women speaking with DoctorThe lack of information also causes unnecessary anxiety if a client chooses a method that alters the menstrual cycle (such as depo or Mirena IUD). Some Latinas worry that the blood accumulates in their uterus and that it is bad for their bodies (personal communication with MCC at a community health center). The study Entre Parejas: An Exploration of Latino Perspectives Regarding Family Planning and Contraception by the National Council of La Raza also found that Latinas are skeptical of methods that alter menstruation “because it contaminates the body.”

Dedicating a few extra minutes to answer a client’s questions may also help in developing confianza and encourage the client to return for a follow-up visit if she is dealing with side-effects or other concerns regarding the chosen method.

Latinos At-A-Glance

  • 4% of women in NC are of Hispanic/Latino origin1
  • 41.2% of Latinas in NC report that their pregnancy was unintended (wanted later or not at all)2
  • 54% of Latinas in the US have unintended pregnancies3
  • 85% of Latinas reported using something to prevent pregnancy after delivery4


  1. 2007 NC Women's Health Report Card
  2. North Carolina Minority Health Facts: Hispanics/Latinos
  3. Alan Guttmacher Institute
  4. 2002-2004 NC Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring Survey
5 Useful Spanish Health Phrases

  1. ¿Cuáles son sus planes de familia?  (What are your plans for family?)
  2. ¿Me permite explicarle cómo funciona el ciclo menstrual? (Would you allow me to explain how the menstrual cycle works?)
  1. ¿Qué sabe de los métodos para prevenir embarazo? (What do you know about methods to prevent pregnancy?)
  2. ¿Cuál método le interesa más? (Which method are you most interested in?)
  3. Me gustaría que haga otra cita para que platiquemos de cómo se siente con el método que escogió.  (I would like you to make another appointment so we can talk about how you’re feeling with the method you chose.)

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