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Birth Control Health Center

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The Pill Is Most Popular Contraception Method

Survey Shows More Than 10 Million U.S. Women Use Oral Contraception
By Joanna Broder
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

May 26, 2010 -- If you are a fan of the tried and true birth control pill, you are not alone.

Among American women in their childbearing years, ages 15 to 44, the pill was the most commonly used method of contraception between the years 2006 and 2008.

That is according to the recently released report "Use of Contraception in the United States: 1982-2008," sponsored by the National Center for Health Statistics, which is part of the CDC.

The report draws upon data found in the National Survey of Family Growth, which collects information on factors related to the growth and breakup of families, and addresses a number of issues surrounding contraception. Some examples include the type of contraception couples choose when they engage in premarital sex and the reasons why women who conceive an unintended pregnancy -- and who were not using any form of contraception at the time -- chose not to use contraception.

For the survey on which the report was based, researchers interviewed 7,356 women between the ages of 15 and 44 between July 1, 2006, and December 2008. The report also draws on data from comparable samples of women interviewed in 1982, 1995, and 2002. Only information about heterosexual intercourse as reported by women was included in the report.

Some of the report's key findings include:

  • More than 99% of women aged 15-44 who have ever had sex with a man have used at least one type of contraception.
  • 10.7 million women used the oral contraceptive pill during 2006-2008.
  • 10.3 million women relied upon female sterilization for contraception.
  • Among women having sex for the first time, condoms were the leading method of contraception.
  • For women under age 30, the pill was the leading type of contraception.
  • For women age 30 and older, female sterilization was the most common form of birth control.
  • Between 2006 and 2008, about 93% of women had ever had a partner use the male condom; 82% of women had used the oral contraceptive pill; and 59% had had a partner who used withdrawal.
  • Only 56% of Asian women and 68% of Hispanic or Latina women have ever used the birth control pill, compared with 89% of white and 78% of black women.
  • About 84% of women whose mother had a college education used some form of birth control when they first had premarital sex. Among women whose mothers did not complete high school, only 53% used a method of contraception when they first had premarital sex. Most of this difference is due to condom use (68% vs. 37%).

The National Survey of Family Growth, on which this report was based, was conducted in 1973, 1976, 1982, 1988, 1995, 2002 and in 2006-2008. The survey relies on a national sample to collect information on marriage, divorce, contraception, pregnancy, and births among other factors related to families.

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