Use of contraception in the United States: 1982-2008

Vital Health Stat 23. 2010 Aug:(29):1-44.


Objective: This report presents national estimates of contraceptive use and method choice based on the 1982, 1995, 2002, and 2006-2008 National Surveys of Family Growth (NSFG).

Methods: Data for 2006-2008 were collected through in-person interviews with 13,495 men and women 15-44 years of age in the household population of the United States. This report is based on the sample of 7,356 women interviewed in 2006-2008. The response rate for women in the 2006-2008 survey was about 76%.

Results: More than 99% of women 15-44 years of age who have ever had sexual intercourse with a male (referred to as "sexually experienced women") have used at least one contraceptive method. The percentage of women who have ever used emergency contraception, the contraceptive patch, and the contraceptive ring increased between 2002 and 2006-2008. Looking at contraceptive use in the month of interview, or current use, the leading method of contraception in the United States during 2006-2008 was the oral contraceptive pill, used by 10.7 million women; the second leading method was female sterilization, used by 10.3 million women. While contraceptive use is virtually universal in the United States, women with different characteristics make different choices of methods--for example, college educated women are much more likely to use the pill and less likely to use female sterilization than less educated women. Age, parity, marital status, and income are also closely related to the choice of method. These method choices are related to the risk of unintended pregnancy in these groups.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Contraception / statistics & numerical data*
  • Contraception Behavior / trends*
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Unplanned
  • Sexual Behavior
  • United States
  • Young Adult