Health Status > Maternal Health

Contraception

The majority of women of reproductive age (15-44 years) in the United States use contraception. The percent of women in this age group who use contraception increased substantially between 1982 and 1995, from 55.7 percent to 64.2 percent; this rate dropped slightly to 61.9 percent in 2002. It is important to note that these percentages represent all women of reproductive age, not just sexually active women.

Among all women between the ages of 18 and 44 who were using contraception in 2002, the three most common methods were birth control pills (31.3 percent), female sterilization (27.6 percent), and condoms (18.4 percent). The popularity of each of these methods varied substantially by insurance status: female sterilization and the pill were most common among women with Medicaid, female sterilization and the pill were most common among those with private insurance, and female sterilization was most common among women with no insurance. Female sterilization was the most common type of contraception among married women and women who were formerly married; and the pill, condoms, and female sterilization were most common among women who have never been married. Among all marital status categories, male sterilization was the most frequently mentioned by currently married women and least mentioned by never married women.

Among women who do not use contraception, never having had sex or not having sex in the 3 months prior to the interview was the most commonly reported reason for non-use of contraceptives (47.6 percent). The next most common reason was that the woman was pregnant, seeking pregnancy, or postpartum (25.0 percent). Currently married or cohabitating women were the most likely to report pregnancy as a reason for contraceptive non-use, while women who have never been married or who are formerly married were the most likely to report abstinence as the reason for not using contraceptives.

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Women's Health USA 2006 is not copyrighted. Readers are free to duplicate and use all or part of the information contained on this page. Suggested Citation: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Women's Health USA 2006. Rockville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2006.