Contraception in America is the most current comprehensive landmark survey of American women’s attitudes toward and experience with contraception. The Contraception in America landmark survey describes the current state of contraceptive use and preferences from the perspective of women 18-49 years of age in the United States, as well as physicians treating women.
The Contraception in America findings are based upon a national probability sample of 1,000 women aged 18 to 49 and a comparison sample of 201 physicians, 101 in primary care (family practice) and 100 in obstetrics/gynecology. The survey of women is particularly notable because it is based on a dual frame sample of landlines and cell phones. A total of 800 women were interviewed from a random digit dialing (RDD) sample of landline telephone numbers and 200 women without landlines (cell phone only) were interviewed from an RDD sample of cell phone numbers. The dual frame sample provides coverage for approximately 98% of households in the United States.
The survey was conducted by Strategic Pharma Solutions, LLC with the national public opinion research organization Abt SRBI Inc. and sponsored by Teva Women’s Health, Inc. Serving as advisors on the project were:
- Rebecca Brightman, MD
- Stephen Brunton, MD
- Vanessa Cullins, MD, MPH, MBA
- Linda Dominguez, WHNP
- Ashlesha Patel, MD, MPH
- Diana Ramos, MD, MPH
- Miriam Zieman, MD
Key Insights: The survey findings yield a number of important insights about the current state of contraception in America from the perspectives of both women of reproductive age and the doctors who manage the reproductive health of women.
- Accidental pregnancies remain common despite readily available contraception.
- Birth control failures occurred in nearly half of all accidental pregnancies indicating a problem with either correct use of a method or use of an ineffective method.
- Nearly two in five (40%) women of reproductive age reported currently using no form of birth control while the most common methods of contraception included the birth control pill, tubal ligation, the male condom and the intrauterine device (IUD).
- Reproductive age women underestimate their risk of pregnancy, which may contribute to the high number of accidental pregnancies.
- The most common reason women give for not using any method of birth control is they believe they are infertile or are not sexually active. This corresponds to the belief that they are not at risk of pregnancy. However, women may underestimate their fertility or become sexually active, putting themselves at risk.
- Women say they mainly choose their contraceptive method for effectiveness and convenience.
- While nearly all reproductive age women have heard of emergency contraception, more than half do not understand the mechanism of how it works.
- In assessing knowledge about methods of contraception and how they work, many women are not familiar with the differences between contraceptive methods; do not know which methods fall under different categories; or which method best meets their requirements.
- While the birth control pill is the most commonly used method, many women report forgetting to take it as directed.
- Conversations between physicians and reproductive age women about contraception occur regularly, according to physicians, while women say that they more often initiate the topic of contraception than their physicians do.
- Among physicians saying that they have seen an increase in demand for any type of contraception in the past five years, both obstetrician/gynecologists and family practitioners name the IUD as the method that has had the greatest increase in demand.
- Long Acting Reversible Contraceptive (LARC) methods are not frequently prescribed or recommended by family practitioners.
- There is a need for further education and training of healthcare providers in order to raise patient awareness of effective birth control choices, including LARCs, for all women of reproductive age.