The Broad Benefits of Contraceptive Use in the United States
- Women and couples use contraceptives to have healthier pregnancies, to help time and space births, and to achieve their desired family size.1
- Family planning has well-documented health benefits for mothers, newborns, families and communities. Pregnancies that occur too early or too late in a woman’s life and those that are spaced too closely negatively affect maternal health and increase the risk of low birth weight.2
- The ability to delay and space childbearing is crucial to women’s social and economic advancement. Women’s ability to obtain and effectively use contraceptives has a positive impact on their education and workforce participation, as well as on subsequent outcomes related to income, family stability, mental health and happiness, and children’s well-being.3 However, the evidence suggests that the most disadvantaged U.S. women do not fully share in these benefits, which is why unintended pregnancy prevention efforts need to be grounded in broader antipoverty and social justice efforts.
- Many hormonal methods—the pill, vaginal ring, patch, implant and IUD—offer a number of health benefits in addition to contraceptive effectiveness, such as treatment for excessive menstrual bleeding, menstrual pain and acne.4
- In 2015, the most common reason women aged 18–24 gave for using the pill was to prevent pregnancy (93%); however, 70% of pill users also cited noncontraceptive health benefits as reasons for use.4 Some 7% of pill users aged 18–24 relied on the method for exclusively noncontraceptive purposes.
1. Guttmacher Institute, Testimony of Guttmacher Institute Submitted to the Committee on Preventive Services for Women, Institute of Medicine, January 12, 2011, 2011, https://www.guttmacher.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/pubs/CPSW-testimony.pdf.
2. Kost K and Lindberg L, Pregnancy intentions, maternal behaviors, and infant health: investigating relationships with new measures and propensity score analysis, Demography, 2015, 52(1):83–111, doi:10.1007/s13524-014-0359-9.
3. Sonfield A et al., The Social and Economic Benefits of Women’s Ability to Determine Whether and When to Have Children, New York: Guttmacher Institute, 2013, https://www.guttmacher.org/report/social-and-economic-benefits-womens-ability-determine-whether-and-when-have-children.
4. Bearak JM and Jones RK, Did contraceptive use patterns change after the Affordable Care Act? A descriptive analysis, Women’s Health Issues, 2017, 27(3):316–321, doi:10.1016/j.whi.2017.01.006.