Contraceptive use among Canadian women of reproductive age: results of a national survey

J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2009 Jul;31(7):627-40. doi: 10.1016/s1701-2163(16)34242-6.


Objective: Past studies indicate that despite a wide range of contraceptive options, Canadian women tend to use a narrow selection of contraceptive methods. New contraceptive methods have recently been introduced in Canada. The objective of this research is to characterize Canadian women's current contraceptive choices and adherence to contraceptive regimens.

Methods: A national cross-sectional survey was conducted in November 2006. A standardized, confidential, Internet questionnaire was administered to female members of a previously recruited national market research panel. Percentages of current contraceptive use and consistency of use were calculated by age group, marital status, and province and were weighted according to age and region. Chi-square test was used to detect within-group differences for consistency of contraceptive use, oral contraceptive (OC) use, and condom use. Multivariate logistic regression analyses predicting consistent contraception use, OC use, and condom use were performed.

Results: Of 5597 survey respondents, 3253 were eligible for data analysis. Of these women, 2751 had had vaginal intercourse in the previous six months, were not trying to conceive, and reported whether they or their partner had used contraception. Of these 2751 women, 410 (14.9%) never used contraception. Among contraception users, the most frequently used methods of contraception were condoms (54.3%), OCs (43.7%), and withdrawal (11.6%). Newer contraceptive methods were used by less than 4%. Choice of contraceptive method varied by age. Only 65.2% of respondents who were sexually active and not trying to conceive "always used" contraception. Multivariate logistic regression analyses found significantly higher odds of no contraception use in women over 40 years of age, without higher education, living in PEI or Newfoundland, married or living common-law, or having annual household incomes under $100,000.

Conclusion: Despite many contraceptive options, Canadian women continue to use a narrow range of contraceptive methods and to use contraception inconsistently. Consistent contraceptive use is influenced by a number of independent social variables. Future public health initiatives should focus on raising awareness of contraception options, increased access to a variety of contraceptive methods, and assisting with contraceptive adherence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Canada
  • Contraception Behavior / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Young Adult