November 11, 2015
2 min read

Nearly 99% of sexually active women have used some form of birth control

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Among women in the United States who have ever had sexual intercourse, 99% have used birth control at some point, with the majority of women having used three different methods during her lifetime, according to recently published data.

Researchers analyzed data from the 2011-2013 National Survey of Family Growth to assess trends in current contraceptive use among women aged 15 to 44 years (n = 5,601).

Results demonstrated that between 2011 and 2013, 62% of women were currently using some form of contraception. The pill (25.9%) and female sterilization (25.1%) accounted for half of all current contraceptive use, according to the researchers. Other common forms of current contraceptive use included male condoms (15.3%) and long-active reversible contraceptives (LARC) (11.6%).

An increase was seen in the use of LARC, with 7.2% of women using them between 2011 and 2013 compared with only 3.8% between 2006 and 2010. Hispanic women were most likely to use LARC, while black women were least likely, according to researchers.

Nearly seven out of 10 women between the ages of 15 and 24 years were currently using either the pill (47.3%) or male condom (21.4%). More than 44% of women aged 35 to 44 years were currently using female sterilization and 17.9% were relying on their partner’s sterilization for contraception.

There was an association between socioeconomic status and contraceptive type: Women with higher incomes were more likely to use the pill. Additionally, pill use was more likely among women with higher levels of education. Women with less education were more likely to use an injectable form of contraception. Forty-three percent of never-married women reported current use of the pill, compared with 26.1% of women who were cohabiting, 17.9% of women who were currently married and 11.5% of women who were previously married, according to the researchers.

Number of children was associated with surgical sterilization, with 56.7% of women with three or more children were surgically sterile. Additionally, women with one or two children were more likely to use LARC.

An association was seen between permanent sterilization methods, both male and female, and intention to have more children in the future.

“Understanding trends over time in contraceptive use and method choice, as well as variation across social and demographic characteristics, offers potential insight into larger population patterns including birth rates, unintended pregnancies and relationship context in which children are born,” the researchers concluded.


Daniels K, et al. Current Contraceptive Use and Variation by Selected Characteristics Among Women Aged 15-44: United States, 2011-2013. NCHS, no. 86. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2015.