Khan, Rasheda, Kerry L. D. MacQuarrie, Quamrun Nahar, and Marzia Sultana. 2016. The Men Are Away: Pregnancy Risk and Family Planning Needs among Women with a Migrant Husband in Barisal, Bangladesh. DHS Further Analysis Reports No. 98. Dhaka, Bangladesh and Rockville, Maryland, USA: National Institute of Population Research and Training (NIPORT), International
Center for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b), and ICF International.
Bangladesh is one of the major labor-exporting countries in the world, with large scale labor migration flows occurring both internationally and domestically. The 2011 Bangladesh Demographic
and Health Survey suggests approximately 12% of currently married women have a husband who lives elsewhere. This study complements the 2014 Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey (BDHS) data with qualitative exploration among a sub-sample of DHS respondents whose husbands usually stay elsewhere but return at least once a year in Barisal division, Bangladesh. The study explores how husbands’ migration patterns influence couples’ fertility intentions, contraceptive decision-making and behavior, and the experience of unintended pregnancies. Research methods included 23 in-depth interviews with women having migrant husbands. Results showed that contraceptive use was high in this sample, with nearly all couples using some method to avoid pregnancy, usually pills and condoms. The experience of side effects was commonplace, which
contributed to a pattern of inconsistent and less effective contraceptive use: women used pills only during the duration of their husbands’ visit to mitigate side effects. Half of the informants experienced unintended pregnancies either due to the failure to use the pill consistently or
because the method failed. Informants lack information about menstrual regulation practices and available procedures. The study findings indicate that women with migrant husbands need family planning education and access to a wider range of family planning choices.