South Asian women in Britain are less likely to use contraception than women in other ethnic groups. Previous studies have identified a lack of knowledge combined with low levels of English language and/or literacy as barriers to using contraception, but have not examined in detail women’s experiences of accessing services. This qualitative study focused onthe experiences of 19 Muslim women of Pakistani ancestry and the views of six health and community workers. The findings detail considerable institutional barriers to accessing contraceptive services, such as a lack of information and the paternalisticattitudes of some health professionals. The study suggests that, although all the women were motivated to access and use contraception, their ability to make informed choices was often limited. It was only when the women encountered advocates, who might be professionals or from their social networks, that they could begin to take control of their fertility. This study is consistent with earlier research and shows that lack of access to contraceptive services can have high personal and social costs for South Asian women.