Contraceptive Use Among Women at Risk for Unintended Pregnancy in the Context of Public Health Emergencies — United States, 2016

Karen Pazol, PhD1; Sascha R. Ellington, MSPH1; Anna C. Fulton, MPH2; Lauren B. Zapata, PhD1; Sheree L. Boulet, DrPH1; Marion E. Rice, MPH2; Shanna Cox, MSPH1; Lisa Romero, DrPH1; Eva Lathrop, MD2; Stacey Hurst, MPH1; Charlan D. Kroelinger, PhD1; Howard Goldberg, PhD1; Carrie K. Shapiro-Mendoza, PhD1; Regina M. Simeone, MPH2; Lee Warner, PhD1; Dana M. Meaney-Delman, MD2; Wanda D. Barfield, MD1; Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Family Planning Module Working Group (View author affiliations)

View suggested citation

Summary

What is already known about this topic?

Ensuring access to contraception is an effective strategy for preventing unintended pregnancy and associated negative maternal-infant outcomes.

What is added by this report?

Data from 21 jurisdictions collected during a 4-month period indicated the number of women with ongoing or potential need for contraceptive services per 1,000 women aged 18–49 years. ranged from 368 to 617. The proportion at risk for unintended pregnancy using a most or moderately effective contraceptive method ranged from 57.4% to 76.8%. The proportion using no contraception ranged from 16.5% to 63.0%.

What are the implications for public health practice?

The recent Zika virus outbreak highlighted the need for contraception data in the context of public health responses associated with adverse maternal-infant outcomes. These data can inform delivery of contraceptive services and evaluation of implementation strategies to increase access to contraception.

Article Metrics
Altmetric:
Citations:
Views:

Views equals page views plus PDF downloads

Related Materials

Ensuring access to and promoting use of effective contraception have been identified as important strategies for preventing unintended pregnancy (1). The importance of ensuring resources to prevent unintended pregnancy in the context of public health emergencies was highlighted during the 2016 Zika virus outbreak when Zika virus infection during pregnancy was identified as a cause of serious birth defects (2). Accordingly, CDC outlined strategies for state, local, and territorial jurisdictions to consider implementing to ensure access to contraception (3). To update previously published contraceptive use estimates* among women at risk for unintended pregnancy and to estimate the number of women with ongoing or potential need for contraceptive services,§, data on contraceptive use were collected during September–December 2016 through the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). Results from 21 jurisdictions indicated that most women aged 18–49 years were at risk for unintended pregnancy (range across jurisdictions = 57.4%–76.8%). Estimates of the number of women with ongoing or potential need for contraceptive services ranged from 368 to 617 per 1,000 women aged 18–49 years. The percentage of women at risk for unintended pregnancy using a most or moderately effective contraceptive method** ranged from 26.1% to 65.7%. Jurisdictions can use this information to estimate the number of women who might seek contraceptive services and to plan and evaluate efforts to increase contraceptive use. This information is particularly important in the context of public health emergencies, such as the recent Zika virus outbreak, which have been associated with increased risk for adverse maternal-infant outcomes (2,46) and have highlighted the importance of providing women and their partners with resources to prevent unintended pregnancy.

BRFSS is a cross-sectional jurisdiction-specific, random-digit–dialed, telephone survey that collects data on risk behaviors and preventive health practices among adult respondents living in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and U.S. Virgin Islands.†† This report includes data from 21 jurisdictions§§ that implemented the optional family planning module on self-reported contraceptive use during September–December 2016.¶¶ Individual contraceptive methods from this module were classified according to first-year typical use failure rates as most effective (≤1% failure), moderately effective (>1%–10% failure), or less effective (>10% failure).*** Women reporting more than one contraceptive method were classified according to the most effective method they reported using.

Weighted estimates and 95% confidence intervals were calculated to determine the proportion of women aged 18–49 years at risk for unintended pregnancy (defined as those who reported they were sexually active with a male partner, but did not report that they were currently pregnant or seeking pregnancy, that they would not mind being pregnant, or that they had a hysterectomy). In addition, numbers and rates (total number and number per 1,000 women aged 18–49 years) and corresponding 95% confidence intervals were calculated for women with ongoing or potential need for contraceptive services (defined as those at risk for unintended pregnancy who were not using permanent contraceptive methods [female sterilization or report of male partner vasectomy]). Estimates also were calculated to describe the proportion of women at risk for unintended pregnancy using contraception by effectiveness category (most effective, including permanent methods and long-acting reversible contraception [LARC]; moderately effective; less effective; and no method). Estimates for using either a less effective method or no method were further stratified by age group (18–24, 25–34, 35–44, and 45–49 years). Women at risk for unintended pregnancy who did not specify the type of contraception they used or reported “other” methods (4.8%)††† were excluded from estimates of contraceptive use by method effectiveness and from estimates of the number of women with ongoing or potential need for contraceptive services. Estimates that did not meet reliability standards established for BRFSS were suppressed.§§§

Among the 21 jurisdictions, the proportion of women aged 18–49 years at risk for unintended pregnancy ranged from 57.4% (Texas) to 76.8% (Minnesota) (Table 1). Jurisdictions with the fewest numbers of women with ongoing or potential need for contraceptive services included Guam, Kansas, Puerto Rico, and West Virginia; jurisdictions with the highest numbers included California, Florida, Illinois, and Texas. Estimates of the number of women with ongoing or potential need for contraceptive services per 1,000 women aged 18–49 years ranged from 368 in Puerto Rico to 617 in Maryland. Among women at risk for unintended pregnancy, the proportion using either a most or moderately effective contraceptive method ranged from 26.1% (Guam) to 65.7% (West Virginia) (Table 2); among 11 jurisdictions with reliable estimates for LARC, use ranged from 5.5% (Kansas) to 17.0% (Maryland). Among 18 jurisdictions with reliable estimates, the percentage of women at risk for unintended pregnancy using a less effective method of contraception ranged from 11.1% (Illinois) to 47.7% (Arizona), and among 19 jurisdictions, the percentage not using any method of contraception ranged from 16.5% (Virginia) to 63.0% (Guam) (Table 3). Across age-stratified estimates, the percentage using either a less effective method or no method ranged from 25.9% (women aged 35–44 years in South Carolina) to 79.9% (women aged 18–24 years in California) (Supplementary Table, https://stacks.cdc.gov/view/cdc/57915).

Discussion

Across the 21 jurisdictions, the number of women with ongoing or potential need for contraceptive services per 1,000 women aged 18–49 years ranged from 368 to 617 and exceeded 4 million in total in the jurisdiction with the highest number of women with ongoing or potential need for contraceptive services. The proportion of women at risk for unintended pregnancy using a most or moderately effective method of contraception ranged from 26.1% to 65.7%. The proportion using no contraception ranged from 16.5% to 63.0%. These data can be used for jurisdictional planning and are particularly important in the context of public health emergencies associated with increased risk for adverse maternal-infant outcomes that heighten the need to provide women and their partners with resources to prevent unintended pregnancy.

The data for this report were collected because of concerns about Zika virus–related adverse pregnancy and birth outcomes; however, the findings have broader implications. Several types of public health emergencies, such as natural disasters, including hurricanes, have been associated with adverse maternal-infant outcomes, along with disruptions in women’s abilities to access contraception and interruptions in method use (4,5). Similarly, given the ongoing opioid crisis and high proportion of unintended pregnancies among women who misuse opioids (6), ensuring access to contraception and preconception care among these women is an important strategy for reducing the incidence of neonatal abstinence syndrome (6). Moreover, ensuring access to effective contraception is important in general for supporting women and their partners in planning their pregnancies and is also cost-saving (7), particularly during public health emergencies such as the Zika virus outbreak where costs associated with long-term care of children with adverse birth outcomes are high (8).

Jurisdiction-level data are important because of the substantial variation among jurisdictions in unintended pregnancy rates (9). Although a number of sociodemographic factors contribute to this variation, implementation of programs and policies that increase access to contraception, including the most effective methods, also varies considerably among jurisdictions.¶¶¶ During the Zika virus outbreak response, CDC worked with jurisdictional partners to implement strategies to promote increased access to contraception (3). Frequently adopted strategies included maintaining sustainable partnerships among insurers, manufacturers, and state agencies; reimbursing for the full range of contraceptive services; maintaining continuous stocking and supply of devices in a wide range of service facilities; and training providers on current insertion and removal techniques for the most effective methods. Although developed during the Zika virus response, these strategies apply broadly to all situations in which women and their partners need access to resources to prevent unintended pregnancy.

This report provides data both for estimating the number of women who might seek services and for evaluating the impact of policies and programs. Understanding how many women need contraceptive services and where the need is greatest can aid in planning health care delivery.**** In addition, the proportion of women at risk for unintended pregnancy using a most or moderately effective contraceptive method is an established indicator of quality family planning service provision†††† and a Healthy People 2020 objective.§§§§ This indicator is critical for evaluating the success of implementation strategies and population-level impact (1). Conversely, variation in prevalence of use of less effective contraceptive methods or no method, as documented in this report by age group, can be used to identify the need for targeted implementation of strategies, such as provision of youth-friendly services (3).

The findings in this report are subject to at least five limitations. First, information on contraceptive use was self-reported and might be subject to recall or social desirability bias. Second, because data for this report were collected over a 4-month period versus an entire year, small sample sizes limited the precision of estimates. Third, it was not possible to determine whether those reporting unspecified methods were using permanent or reversible methods. Estimates of the number of women with ongoing or potential need for contraceptive services therefore excluded these women and might have underestimated the number who might seek services; conversely, these estimates included women using LARC, who might only need services every 3–10 years depending on the type of LARC (10). Fourth, this report includes data from only 21 jurisdictions and is not representative of other jurisdictions; however, it highlights the need for ongoing collection of jurisdiction-level data for all U.S. jurisdictions. Finally, nonresponse bias remains a possibility, although the weighting methodology used by BRFSS adjusts for nonresponse bias.

Ensuring access to effective contraception is an important strategy for preventing unintended pregnancy and can be particularly important in the context of certain public health responses. During the Zika virus outbreak, contraception served as a medical countermeasure to prevent Zika virus-affected pregnancies and is similarly important in other contexts where risk for adverse maternal-infant outcomes is increased. The data in this report can be applied in nonemergency settings to help jurisdictions estimate the number of women who might seek contraceptive services and to plan and evaluate implementation strategies.

Acknowledgments

Robert Bailey, Arizona Department of Health Services; Judy Bass, Arizona Department of Health Services; Gayle Blair, Illinois Department of Public Health; Martin F. Celaya, Arizona Department of Health Services; Elizabeth Ferree, Virginia Department of Health; William Garvin, Division of Population Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC; Jennifer G. Laliberté, Kansas Department of Health and Environment; Tebitha Mawokomatanda, Division of Population Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC; Kenneth J. O’Dowd, New Jersey Department of Health; Ghazala Perveen, Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Family Planning Module Working Group

Leah Atwell, Florida Department of Health; Rana Bayakly, Georgia Department of Public Health; Sarah Conklin, Virginia Department of Health; Harley T. Davis, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control; Victoria Davis, Georgia Department of Public Health; Laurie Freyder, Louisiana Department of Health; Christine Graham, Louisiana State University; Sarojini Kanotra, Kentucky Department for Public Health; Sarah Khalidi, Alabama Department of Public Health; Georgette Lavetsky, Maryland Department of Health; Kristi Pier, Maryland Department of Health; Lauren Porter, Florida Department of Health; Mina Qobadi, Mississippi State Department of Health; Sondra Reese, Alabama Department of Public Health; Chelsea L. Richard, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control; Nagi Salem, Minnesota Department of Health; Ruby A. Serrano-Rodríguez, Puerto Rico Department of Health; Birgit A. Shanholtzer, West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources; Holly Sobotka, Ohio Department of Health; Amilcar Soto-Mercado, Puerto Rico Department of Health; Carol L. Stone, Connecticut Department of Public Health.

Conflict of Interest

No conflicts of interest were reported.

Corresponding author: Karen Pazol, kpazol@cdc.gov, 770-488-6305.


1Division of Reproductive Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC; 2Division of Congenital and Developmental Disorders, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.


* State-based estimates of contraceptive use during the Zika response were from 2011–2013. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6530e2.htm.

Women were considered at risk for unintended pregnancy unless they reported that they were not sexually active with a male partner, that they were currently pregnant or seeking pregnancy, that they would not mind being pregnant, or that they had a hysterectomy.

§ Women with ongoing or potential need for contraceptive services were defined as those women considered at risk for unintended pregnancy who were not using permanent contraceptive methods (female sterilization or report of male partner vasectomy).

The number of women with ongoing or potential need for contraceptive services can be used to predict the number of women who might seek services, but does not represent unmet need for contraception because many of these women might already be using some method of contraception. https://www.guttmacher.org/sites/default/files/report_pdf/contraceptive-needs-and-services-2014_1.pdfpdf iconexternal icon.

** Most effective contraceptive methods are associated with a ≤1% failure rate during the first year of typical use; moderately effective contraceptive methods are associated with a >1%–10% failure rate during the first year of typical use. These contrast with less effective methods, which are associated with a >10% failure rate during the first year of typical use, and the use of no method, which is associated with an 85% pregnancy rate for the overall population of women of reproductive age. https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/contraception/index.htm.

†† https://www.cdc.gov/brfss/data_documentation/index.htm.

§§ Includes Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Guam, and Puerto Rico. Data collected for Mississippi are not included in this report because they did not meet BRFSS reliability standards (denominators ≥50 respondents and a relative standard error ≤30%) with respect to reporting the number of women with ongoing or potential need for contraceptive services, or the proportion of women at risk for unintended pregnancy by method type.

¶¶ Questions implemented followed those implemented in 2017 with Module 17: Preconception Health/Family Planning. https://www.cdc.gov/brfss/questionnaires/pdf-ques/2017_BRFSS_Pub_Ques_508_tagged.pdfpdf icon.

*** Most effective contraceptive methods included permanent contraceptive methods (female sterilization or report of male partner vasectomy) and long-acting reversible contraception (LARC, including intrauterine devices [IUDs] and contraceptive implants). Moderately effective contraceptive methods included contraceptive injectables, contraceptive pills, contraceptive patches, and vaginal rings. Less effective contraceptive methods included diaphragms, condoms (male or female), withdrawal, cervical caps, sponges, spermicides, fertility-awareness based methods, and emergency contraception.

††† Write-in responses were not available for women responding “other,” and previous evaluation of BRFSS contraceptive use data indicates these methods are a mix of permanent and reversible methods of all effectiveness levels. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6530e2.htm.

§§§ Reliability standards for BRFSS require suppression of estimates with an unweighted denominator of <50 respondents or a relative standard error >30%.

¶¶¶ Examples of programs and policies that vary by state include participation in the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials’ state learning community for improving access http://www.astho.org/Programs/Maternal-and-Child-Health/Increasing-Access-to-Contraception/external icon and Medicaid family planning eligibility expansions https://www.guttmacher.org/state-policy/explore/medicaid-family-planning-eligibility-expansionsexternal icon.

**** https://www.guttmacher.org/sites/default/files/report_pdf/contraceptive-needs-and-services-2014_1.pdfpdf iconexternal icon and https://thenationalcampaign.org/desertsexternal icon.

†††† https://www.hhs.gov/opa/performance-measures/most-or-moderately-effective-contraceptive-methods/index.htmlexternal icon.

§§§§ https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/family-planning/objectivesexternal icon; FP-16.

References

  1. Rankin KM, Gavin L, Moran JW Jr, et al. Importance of performance measurement and MCH epidemiology leadership to quality improvement initiatives at the national, state and local levels. Matern Child Health J 2016;20:2239–46. CrossRefexternal icon PubMedexternal icon
  2. Rasmussen SA, Jamieson DJ, Honein MA, Petersen LR. Zika virus and birth defects—reviewing the evidence for causality. N Engl J Med 2016;374:1981–7. CrossRefexternal icon PubMedexternal icon
  3. Kroelinger CD, Romero L, Lathrop E, et al. Meeting summary: state and local implementation strategies for increasing access to contraception during Zika preparedness and response—United States, September 2016. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017;66:1230–5. CrossRefexternal icon PubMedexternal icon
  4. Ellington SR, Kourtis AP, Curtis KM, et al. Contraceptive availability during an emergency response in the United States. J Womens Health (Larchmt) 2013;22:189–93. CrossRefexternal icon PubMedexternal icon
  5. Callaghan WM, Rasmussen SA, Jamieson DJ, et al. Health concerns of women and infants in times of natural disasters: lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina. Matern Child Health J 2007;11:307–11. CrossRefexternal icon PubMedexternal icon
  6. Ko JY, Wolicki S, Barfield WD, et al. CDC grand rounds: public health strategies to prevent neonatal abstinence syndrome. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017;66:242–5. CrossRefexternal icon PubMedexternal icon
  7. Frost JJ, Sonfield A, Zolna MR, Finer LB. Return on investment: a fuller assessment of the benefits and cost savings of the US publicly funded family planning program. Milbank Q 2014;92:696–749. CrossRefexternal icon PubMedexternal icon
  8. Li R, Simmons KB, Bertolli J, et al. Cost-effectiveness of increasing access to contraception during the Zika virus outbreak, Puerto Rico, 2016. Emerg Infect Dis 2017;23:74–82. CrossRefexternal icon PubMedexternal icon
  9. Finer LB, Kost K. Unintended pregnancy rates at the state level. Perspect Sex Reprod Health 2011;43:78–87. CrossRefexternal icon PubMedexternal icon
  10. Committee on Practice Bulletins-Gynecology, Long-Acting Reversible Contraception Work Group. Practice bulletin no. 186: long-acting reversible contraception: implants and intrauterine devices. Obstet Gynecol 2017;130:e251–69. PubMedexternal icon
TABLE 1. Percentage of women aged 18–49 years at risk for unintended pregnancy* and numbers of women with ongoing or potential need for contraceptive services,,§ by jurisdiction — Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 21 jurisdictions, September–December, 2016Return to your place in the text
Jurisdiction Total no. of women aged 18–49 years % of women aged 18–49 years at risk for unintended pregnancy (95% CI) Women with ongoing or potential need for contraceptive services
No. (95% CI) No. per 1,000 aged 18–49 years (95% CI)
Alabama 1,022,400 64.6 (56.9–71.6) 418,200 (342,500–498,400) 409 (335–487)
Arizona 1,400,300 57.9 (42.9–71.5) 683,400 (487,400–882,200) 488 (348–630)
California 8,585,800 67.6 (60.3–74.1) 4,464,500 (3,817,200–5,104,000) 520 (445–594)
Connecticut 737,700 67.2 (51.5–79.9) 378,800 (283,900–472,400) 514 (385–640)
Florida 4,027,500 59.9 (53.4–66.1) 1,803,900 (1,566,300–2,047,500) 448 (389–508)
Georgia 2,252,800 62.5 (50.3–73.2) 1,089,400 (828,400–1,354,400) 484 (368–601)
Illinois 2,745,600 74.1 (63.9–82.1) 1,675,800 (1,380,200–1,944,600) 610 (503–708)
Kansas 588,900 71.9 (66.8–76.5) 297,100 (262,900–331,300) 505 (446–563)
Kentucky 913,400 71.8 (66.8–76.3) 447,900 (397,400–498,600) 490 (435–546)
Louisiana 997,700 62.1 (44.0–77.3) 387,800 (227,600–576,400) 389 (228–578)
Maryland 1,299,200 75.8 (69.3–81.3) 801,200 (707,500–888,600) 617 (545–684)
Minnesota 1,126,900 76.8 (70.3–82.3) 596,800 (502,200–689,700) 530 (446–612)
New Jersey 1,862,500 76.6 (65.4–85.0) 1,142,400 (922,100–1,340,300) 613 (495–720)
Ohio 2,359,500 61.5 (52.9–69.4) 1,105,200 (907,800–1,306,900) 468 (385–554)
Oklahoma 805,100 65.8 (58.5–72.5) 376,800 (318,000–436,600) 468 (395–542)
South Carolina 1,021,100 70.3 (62.7–76.9) 548,300 (461,100–633,400) 537 (452–620)
Texas 6,011,100 57.4 (47.4–66.9) 2,435,800 (1,888,700–3,025,200) 405 (314–503)
Virginia 1,813,800 71.6 (64.1–78.1) 938,500 (799,900–1,075,600) 517 (441–593)
West Virginia 360,400 67.6 (61.4–73.3) 158,200 (136,700–180,300) 439 (379–500)
Guam 35,200 70.3 (59.2–79.4) 20,800 (16,500–24,700) 591 (469–702)
Puerto Rico 795,700 63.7 (58.8–68.4) 292,900 (255,600–332,200) 368 (321–417)

Abbreviation: CI = confidence interval.
* Women were considered at risk for unintended pregnancy unless they reported that they were not sexually active with a male partner, that they were currently pregnant or seeking pregnancy, that they would not mind being pregnant, or that they had a hysterectomy.
Women with ongoing or potential need for contraceptive services were defined as those women considered at risk for unintended pregnancy who were not using permanent contraceptive methods (female sterilization or report of male partner vasectomy).
§The number of women with ongoing or potential need for contraceptive services can be used to predict how many women might seek services; this measure does not represent unmet need for contraception because many of these women might already be using some method of contraception: https://www.guttmacher.org/sites/default/files/report_pdf/contraceptive-needs-and-services-2014_1.pdfpdf iconexternal icon.
Numbers are rounded to the nearest 100.

TABLE 2. Percentage of women aged 18–49 years at risk for unintended pregnancy* using most or moderately effective§ contraceptive methods, by jurisdiction — Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 21 jurisdictions, September–December, 2016Return to your place in the text
Jurisdiction Total Most effective Moderately effective
Most or moderately effective Sterilization Long-acting reversible (LARC)
% (95% CI) % (95% CI) % (95% CI) % (95% CI)
Alabama 63.8 (54.0–72.5) 35.7 (26.6–46.0) 19.1 (12.5–28.2)
Arizona 39.1 (25.1–55.1)
California 51.5 (42.0–60.9) 22.5 (16.5–29.9) 11.7 (7.5–17.8) 17.2 (12.4–23.4)
Connecticut 55.4 (44.5–65.9) 21.9 (15.0–31.0) 9.4 (5.5–15.7) 24.1 (14.6–37.0)
Florida 48.6 (42.0–55.2) 22.9 (17.3–29.6) 9.7 (6.5–14.4) 16.0 (12.0–21.0)
Georgia 51.5 (36.9–65.8) 22.3 (12.0–37.7)
Illinois 62.4 (50.5–73.0) 16.8 (10.0–26.7) 33.3 (21.0–48.3)
Kansas 60.9 (53.7–67.7) 28.9 (23.0–35.8) 5.5 (3.3–9.1) 26.4 (20.6–33.2)
Kentucky 60.1 (53.4–66.5) 31.3 (25.1–38.2) 6.6 (4.1–10.6) 22.2 (17.0–28.4)
Louisiana 56.9 (32.1–78.7) 35.0 (18.7–55.8)
Maryland 62.3 (53.8–70.1) 17.6 (12.7–23.9) 17.0 (11.0–25.4) 27.7 (19.5–37.6)
Minnesota 60.2 (50.2–69.4) 29.9 (21.3–40.2) 11.8 (6.6–20.2) 18.5 (11.1–29.2)
New Jersey 50.8 (37.2–64.2) 16.3 (10.5–24.5)
Ohio 45.4 (35.7–55.3) 22.9 (16.6–30.6) 7.6 (4.4–13.0) 14.8 (10.0–21.5)
Oklahoma 62.5 (53.0–71.1) 28.2 (21.3–36.3) 27.0 (19.5–36.0)
South Carolina 61.5 (50.3–71.7) 22.8 (15.5–32.3) 10.5 (5.8–18.3) 28.2 (19.4–39.2)
Texas 53.0 (40.7–65.1) 27.3 (17.7–39.5) 20.5 (12.8–31.1)
Virginia 60.8 (51.9–68.9) 26.8 (20.0–35.0) 13.3 (7.8–21.7) 20.7 (14.8–28.0)
West Virginia 65.7 (58.9–72.0) 34.4 (27.8–41.6) 11.0 (6.5–17.9) 20.4 (15.0–27.0)
Guam 26.1 (15.2–41.0)
Puerto Rico 49.8 (43.6–55.9) 41.6 (35.7–47.8) 6.8 (4.1–11.1)

Abbreviation: CI = confidence interval
* Women were considered at risk for unintended pregnancy unless they reported that they were not sexually active with a male partner, that they were currently pregnant or seeking pregnancy, that they would not mind being pregnant, or that they had a hysterectomy.
Most effective contraceptive methods included permanent methods (female sterilization or report of male partner vasectomy) and long-acting reversible contraception (LARC, including intrauterine devices [IUDs] and contraceptive implants); most effective methods have a ≤1% failure rate during the first year of typical use. Sources: Trussell J. Contraceptive failure in the United States. Contraception 2011;83:397–404. Sundaram A, Vaughan B, Kost K, et al. Contraceptive failure in the United States: estimates from the 2006–2010 National Survey of Family Growth. Perspect Sex Reprod Health 2017;49:7–16.
§ Moderately effective contraceptive methods included contraceptive injectables, contraceptive pills, transdermal contraceptive patches, and vaginal rings; moderately effective methods have a >1%–10% failure rate with typical use. Sources: Trussell J. Contraceptive failure in the United States. Contraception 2011;83:397–404. Sundaram A, Vaughan B, Kost K, et al. Contraceptive failure in the United States: estimates from the 2006–2010 National Survey of Family Growth. Perspect Sex Reprod Health 2017;49:7–16.
Estimate is unreliable (relative standard error >30% or denominator <50).

TABLE 3. Percentage of women aged 18–49 years at risk for unintended pregnancy* using less effective contraceptive methods or no method, by jurisdiction — Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 21 jurisdictions, September–December, 2016Return to your place in the text
Jurisdiction Total Less effective method No method
Less effective or no method
% (95% CI) % (95% CI) % (95% CI)
Alabama 36.2 (27.5–46.0) 13.6 (8.3–21.6) 22.6 (15.6–31.6)
Arizona 60.9 (44.9–74.9) 47.7 (31.0–65.0) §
California 48.5 (39.1–58.0) 31.6 (21.9–43.2) 16.9 (12.3–22.9)
Connecticut 44.6 (34.1–55.5) 20.4 (13.0–30.6) 24.1 (16.4–34.1)
Florida 51.4 (44.8–58.0) 14.1 (10.2–19.3) 37.3 (31.2–43.9)
Georgia 48.5 (34.2–63.1) 34.1 (21.9–48.8)
Illinois 37.6 (27.0–49.5) 11.1 (6.2–19.1) 26.4 (18.0–37.0)
Kansas 39.1 (32.3–46.3) 14.5 (10.4–19.8) 24.6 (18.7–31.7)
Kentucky 39.9 (33.5–46.6) 20.0 (15.0–26.1) 19.9 (15.5–25.2)
Louisiana 43.1 (21.3–67.9)
Maryland 37.7 (29.9–46.2) 18.8 (13.3–26.0) 18.9 (13.4–25.8)
Minnesota 39.8 (30.6–49.8) 13.1 (8.1–20.6) 26.7 (19.0–36.1)
New Jersey 49.2 (35.8–62.8) 18.3 (10.7–29.6) 30.9 (21.3–42.5)
Ohio 54.6 (44.7–64.3) 22.2 (13.0–35.2) 32.5 (23.5–43.0)
Oklahoma 37.5 (28.9–47.0) 11.8 (7.9–17.3) 25.7 (17.8–35.6)
South Carolina 38.5 (28.3–49.7) 11.3 (7.7–16.3) 27.2 (17.6–39.5)
Texas 47.0 (34.9–59.3) 16.0 (9.8–24.9) 31.0 (19.7–45.0)
Virginia 39.2 (31.1–48.1) 22.7 (15.6–31.8) 16.5 (11.9–22.4)
West Virginia 34.3 (28.0–41.1) 11.9 (8.4–16.7) 22.3 (17.2–28.5)
Guam 74.0 (59.0–84.8) 63.0 (47.7–76.0)
Puerto Rico 50.2 (44.1–56.4) 20.1 (15.5–25.6) 30.2 (24.8–36.1)

Abbreviation: CI = confidence interval.
* Women were considered at risk for unintended pregnancy unless they reported that they were not sexually active with a male partner, that they were currently pregnant or seeking pregnancy, that they would not mind being pregnant, or that they had a hysterectomy.
Less effective contraceptive methods included diaphragms, condoms (male or female), withdrawal, cervical caps, sponges, spermicides, fertility-awareness based methods, and emergency contraception; less effective methods have a >10% failure rate during the first year of typical use. Sources: Trussell J. Contraceptive failure in the United States. Contraception 2011;83:397–404. Sundaram A, Vaughan B, Kost K, et al. Contraceptive failure in the United States: estimates from the 2006–2010 National Survey of Family Growth. Perspect Sex Reprod Health 2017;49:7–16.
§ Estimate is unreliable (relative standard error >30% or denominator <50).


Suggested citation for this article: Pazol K, Ellington SR, Fulton AC, et al. Contraceptive Use Among Women at Risk for Unintended Pregnancy in the Context of Public Health Emergencies — United States, 2016. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2018;67:898–902. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6732a6external icon.

MMWR and Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report are service marks of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Use of trade names and commercial sources is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
References to non-CDC sites on the Internet are provided as a service to MMWR readers and do not constitute or imply endorsement of these organizations or their programs by CDC or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. CDC is not responsible for the content of pages found at these sites. URL addresses listed in MMWR were current as of the date of publication.

All HTML versions of MMWR articles are generated from final proofs through an automated process. This conversion might result in character translation or format errors in the HTML version. Users are referred to the electronic PDF version (https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr) and/or the original MMWR paper copy for printable versions of official text, figures, and tables.

Questions or messages regarding errors in formatting should be addressed to mmwrq@cdc.gov.

View Page In:pdf icon
Page last reviewed: August 16, 2018