Advancing Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights
media center

Contraceptive Use
in the United States

Quick Stats

• The typical American woman wants two children. To achieve this goal, she must use contraceptives for roughly three decades.[1]

• Virtually all American women aged 15–44 who are sexually experienced have at some point used a contraceptive method other than natural family planning (99%). This is also true of Catholic women, 98% of whom have used a contraceptive method other than natural family planning. [2]

• Modern contraception is highly effective. Among American women at risk for unintended pregnancy, the 65% who use a contraceptive method consistently and correctly account for only 5% of unintended pregnancies. The 19% who use a method inconsistently account for 43%, and the 16% who do not use a method at all account for 52%. [3]

• The most effective methods for preventing pregnancy are implants, vasectomy, tubal sterilization and IUDs (all more than 99% effective); injectables (94%); vaginal rings, patches and pills (all 91%); diaphragms (88%); and male condoms (82%).[4]

• Among American women who use contraceptives, the largest proportions use the pill (28%), tubal sterilization (27%) and the condom (16%). However, sterilization is the most common method among black and Hispanic women, while white women most commonly choose the pill. [5]

• In 2012, some 12% of women using contraceptives relied on long-acting reversible methods (the implant and the IUD). In 2009, this proportion was 9% and in 2002 this proportion was 2%.[6]

• Most women who use the pill do so to prevent pregnancy; however, more than half also identify noncontraceptive health benefits, such as treatment for excessive menstrual bleeding, menstrual pain and acne, as reasons for use. [7]


Fact Sheets

Facts on Contraceptive Use in the United States

Minors’ Access to Contraceptive Services

Refusing to Provide Health Services

Insurance Coverage of Contraceptives

Emergency Contraception

Other Resources

Contraceptive Needs and Services: County-level Table Maker