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A woman's choice
February 14th, 2013
03:46 PM ET

New contraception data: by the numbers

Happy National Condom Day! If you're not thrilled with the abundance of pink paper hearts surrounding your desk, this campaign for safe sex offers a different reason to celebrate February 14.

Fittingly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released two reports Thursday on contraception use in the United States. The reports summarize data from the National Survey of Family Growth.

One, "Use of Emergency Contraception Among Women Aged 15-44," is the first ever published on emergency contraception by the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics.

Here are some of the most interesting highlights from that report:

- Approximately 11% of women ages 15 to 44 used emergency contraception between 2006 and 2010, up 7% from 2002

– Women between the ages of 20 and 24 were most likely to use emergency contraception; about 1 in 4 have done so

– The two most common reasons for using emergency contraception are fear of birth control failure (45% of users) and having unprotected sex (49%)

– Use of emergency contraception increased with education. In other words, women with a bachelor's degree were more likely to use it than women who had not completed high school.

The second report analyzed data from 1982 to 2010 to find trends in overall contraceptive use in the United States. The authors found:

– 99% of sexually active women have used at least one contraceptive method sometime during their lifetime

– Approximately 27% of 15- to 17-year-old women are having sex

– Use of the birth control pill has remained steady since the mid-1990s at around 82%

– More women (about 33%) are using other hormonal methods like an arm implant, injection or patch

– Condom use is up to 93% from 52% in 1982

– IUD use declined between 1982 and 2002, but increased to 7.7% between 2002 and 2010

– Foreign-born Hispanic women are three times more likely to use IUDs than other groups

– 60% of women use "withdrawal," more commonly called the pull-out method, as a form of birth control

– Many women change birth control methods over the years; the median number of methods used is 3.1


soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. snowboarder

    education and information are the greatest assets for women of any age when making life's choices.

    February 14, 2013 at 19:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • uuu

      and so are contraceptives

      February 15, 2013 at 06:06 | Report abuse |
    • Poltergeist

      Too bad 60% think pulling out is a contraceptive.

      February 18, 2013 at 10:01 | Report abuse |
  2. nimrod

    60% use withdrawal!!! They call those women "mothers".

    February 14, 2013 at 22:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. samsart

    60% use withdrawal? That's astonishing, and soooooooooooooo unwise!

    February 14, 2013 at 22:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Mathew Varghise

    Of course withdrawal is unwise. Much better to pump your body with hormones.

    February 14, 2013 at 23:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • joy

      Well Mathew when you have to carry a fetus for 9 months, then you can have an opinion on whether hormones are wise or not. There are more problems and complications with a pregnancy than are caused the birth control pill.

      February 15, 2013 at 12:16 | Report abuse |
    • Really, Joy?

      Pregnancy doesn't cause cardiovascular disease, liver disease and deadly blood clots like hormonal contraception does. Have you bothered to read the side effects that come with the Pill? Have you bothered to look at how female death by heart attacks in the U.S. have grown in pretty much the exact same pattern as increased usage in the Pill? Pregnancy is a HEALTHY condition and doesn't require being treated like a disease in order for women to plan their families.

      February 15, 2013 at 23:02 | Report abuse |
    • I call BS

      The pill provides safe contraception for millions of women, dearie. It's far safer than pregnancy and abortion. It's FAR safer than it was when the pill first came on the market.

      What's your issue with it?

      February 17, 2013 at 11:21 | Report abuse |
    • Trehilson

      While I agree that pregnancy should not be viewed as a disease to be treated, it is not without risks. Pre-eclampsia, eclampsia, gestational diabetes, hemorrhage, hypertension and, yes, blood clots are all risks that women face during and after pregnancy. Women have the right and the responsibility to weigh the risks and benefits of hormonal birth control and of every pregnancy they choose to carry.

      February 19, 2013 at 19:42 | Report abuse |
    • KC

      For those of us who were told by our doctors that pregnancy could cause death or permanent disability, hormones WAS the best choice. Doctors are loathe to tie a woman's tubes before age 30, regardless of reason. I could die of pregnancy or I could pump myself full of hormones, which had other benefits.

      February 22, 2013 at 08:32 | Report abuse |
    • rickz70

      Might be intereting to see additional demographics on ths stat. I kind of wonder if there is a skew towards married women on this. Or if maybe the survey was one of those 'check all forms used' kind of thing, and maybe they want pull out in addition to the pill, or it's not their regular/firts choice. Not saying that pulling out is a particularly effective form, just saying that maybe 60% doesn't mean that 60% of women are regularly relying on a man's ability to walk right up tht edge and not ... slip.

      February 24, 2013 at 08:51 | Report abuse |
  5. MM

    Many women who use withdrawal are using it as a backup for some other form of birth control. Since the pill and patch are not 100% effective, they combine it with the withdrawal method. Too bad this article doesn't talk about combining methods.

    February 15, 2013 at 01:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ann

      Thank you – I was going to make the same comment.

      February 22, 2013 at 19:36 | Report abuse |
  6. Cathy

    15 to 17 year olds are NOT women

    February 15, 2013 at 09:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SR

      Physically they are. The concept of adolescence is a relatively modern construct. Throughout most of history people were considered marriageable adults once they went through puberty.

      February 15, 2013 at 09:38 | Report abuse |
  7. Karen

    I thought "safe sex" meant trying to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, not trying to prevent pregnancy. For example, there are "safe sex" campaigns for seniors (who are not trying to prevent pregnancy, but STD's). Is "safe sex" now an umbrella term for both?

    February 15, 2013 at 12:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Health Snark

      I had the same thought and wrote a post about it. As far as I know, "safe sex" has always referred to preventing STDs, for all people who are sexually active, regardless of age, sexual orientation, etc. Thus it shouldn't be used interchangeably with the term contraception.

      March 10, 2013 at 22:25 | Report abuse |
    • Aubrey

      I would say its an umbrella term, in high school my class was taught abstinence, (which to me was wasting not only our time but the resources of the school) but we were also lectured to about safe sex (being both std and pregnancy concerned). That was my experience anyway...

      March 16, 2013 at 12:58 | Report abuse |
  8. Dave

    What, no stats on the use of the "female condom"? Good product.

    February 15, 2013 at 14:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Marquise

    No new male contraceptive?? As with pregnancy and child rearing the burden still rests with the women, but many men think they have the right to dictate what women can and can not do with their bodies. The same men who have no discipline when it comes to their own bodies.

    February 20, 2013 at 20:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Sherri

    I agree. Withdrawal is a terrible form of contraception. Very unreliable. AND you're relying on the man to DO it. Bad choice. However, as a teen, I was not aware of why it didn't work. It took a sex ed class to educate me as to the reason, which I won't go into here. But surprisingly, many women still think it works. It doesn't. Bottom line: birth control pills are far cheaper than raising a baby for 18 years. Condoms are not reliable. Too many women think it won't happen to them. It will. And if you are having sex, and still having periods, even if you are 40, you can get pregnant. And women who think they won't are stupid.

    March 9, 2013 at 22:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Health Snark

    Your tagline on the photo of birth control pills suggests that "safe sex" and contraception are one and the same. Safe sex refers to STD prevention and contraception is birth control. The pill is not going to prevent anyone from getting an STD.

    March 10, 2013 at 22:23 | Report abuse | Reply

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