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 68% who use a contraceptive method consistently and correctly account for only 5% of unintended pregnancies. The 18% who use a method inconsistently—for example, those who miss taking some pills or do not use a condom every time they have sex—account for 41% of all unintended pregnancies. And the 14% who do not practice contraception over the course of a given year, or who have long gaps in use, account for 52% of all unintended pregnancies. [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

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