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- Contraceptive Use
Family planning is considered to be among the top 10 public health achievements of the past century, enabling women to achieve desired birth spacing and family size, and resulting in improved health of infants, children, and women.1 Yet, half of all pregnancies and one-third of all births in the United States are estimated to be unintended at the time of conception with wide disparities by race and ethnicity and other demographic characteristics.2 Unintended pregnancies that lead to births are associated with both short- and long-term negative outcomes for both mother and child, including delayed prenatal care, maternal depression, increased risk for intimate partner violence, and poor developmental and educational outcomes for children.3
In 2006–2010, there were 43 million women at risk of unintended pregnancy—pregnancy—who were either currently using contraception or having intercourse and not sterile (for noncontraceptive reasons), pregnant, postpartum, or trying to get pregnant—of whom 89.0 percent reported using contraception while the remaining 11.0 percent did not. Non-Hispanic Black women were more likely than women of other races and ethnicities to not use contraception while at risk of unintended pregnancy (17.2 percent). Younger and never-married women were also more likely than their older or married counterparts to not use contraception while at risk of unintended pregnancy (data not shown in graph images or in data tables on this site).
Among women aged 15–44 years who were using contraception, the most commonly used methods were female or male sterilization (36.6 percent), the pill (27.5 percent), and condoms (16.4 percent), followed by other hormonal methods such as implants, patches, and rings (7.2 percent) and intrauterine devices (IUDs; 5.6 percent). Effectiveness rates based on typical use, including incorrect or inconsistent use, are highest for sterilization, IUDs, the pill, and other hormonal methods, and fall below 90 percent for condoms, sponges, withdrawal, and periodic abstinence.4 Variation in contraceptive use and method may help to explain demographic patterns of unintended pregnancy. The Affordable Care Act ensures women have access to a full range of recommended preventive services by expanding insurance coverage and requiring most private health plans to provide FDA-approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling without copays.5
2 Mosher WD, Jones J, Abma JC. Intended and Unintended Births in the United States: 1982–2010. National Health Statistics Reports; No 55. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics; 2012. ↑
4 Trussell J. Contraceptive Failure in the United States. Contraception. May 2011;83(5):397-404. ↑
|Race/Ethnicity||Percent of Women, Using Contraception||Percent of Women, Not Using Contraception|
|*At risk of unintended pregnancy is defined as having had intercourse in the last 3 months among those who were not currently pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or sterile for health reasons.↑
**Sample sizes for American Indian/Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islanders women were too small to produce reliable results.↑ Source: Jones J, Mosher W, Daniels K. Current contraceptive use in the United States, 2006–2010, and changes in patterns of use since 1995. National Health Statistics Reports; No 60. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2012.
Contraceptive Method Used Among Women Aged 15–44 Years Using Contraception, 2006–2010*
Percent of Women:
- Sterilization 36.6
- Pill 27.5
- Condom 16.4
- Other Hormonal Methods** 7.2
- Other Methods 5.7
- Intrauterine Devices (IUD) 5.6
- Periodic Abstinence† 1.2
*Women who used more than one form of contraception are classified according to the most effective form listed; estimates may not total to 100 due to rounding.↑
**Includes hormonal implants, patches, injectables, and rings.↑
†Includes calendar rhythm, natural family planning (NFP), cervical mucus test, and temperature rhythm.↑
Source: Jones J, Mosher W, Daniels K. Current contraceptive use in the United States, 2006–2010, and changes in patterns of use since 1995. National Health Statistics Reports; No 60. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2012.