In the United Sates, over 62 million women are of reproductive
age (15-44 years). Seventy percent of these women are sexually active and do not want to become pregnant.
The typical U.S. woman wants only two children and to prevent additional
pregnancies, she must use a contraceptive method for about 30
Among the estimated 42 million fertile and sexually active women in the U.S., most are using some form of contraception.
It is estimated that 95% of sexually active women use contraception at some time during their lives and that each woman uses up to three different methods.
About 7% of women of reproductive
age are not using a contraceptive method and are at risk of unwanted pregnancy.
The probability of conception is 15-33% per cycle, depending
upon the frequency of sexual intercourse.
The ovum is able to be fertilized for only 12-24 hours after ovulation.
Sperm usually remain viable for 3 days after intercourse. The most fertile period for women begins several days prior to ovulation and ends
24 hours after ovulation.
About 85% of women who are not using
a contraceptive method will become pregnant over the course of a year. Use of contraceptives dramatically reduces the likelihood of pregnancy.
Among women using the oral contraceptive (OC), only 8% become pregnant annually and of women
whose partners are using a condom, only 15% become pregnant
The emergency contraceptive Plan B can
be taken in one dose (2 tablets) rather
than two doses 12 hours apart. There is
no change in effectiveness or side effects.
The IUD is recognized as a safe, effective, long term, reversible contraceptive. IUD related pelvic infections are rare.
The FDA recently required that a warning be added to labeling for the Ortho Evra contraceptive patch, stating that the product
exposes women to higher levels of
estrogen than most birth control pills.
Latex condoms are more effective in preventing infections transmitted by fluids (e.g., HIV) than those transmitted by contact with skin or mucosa (e.g., genital herpes).
The Today contraceptive sponge, which was taken off the U.S. market in 1995, has been re-approved by the FDA and is now available in the U.S.
The contraceptives Lunelle and Norplant and the emergency contraceptive Preven are not currently available in the U.S. The
hormone doses supplied by Preven can be duplicated with various oral contraceptives.
1. Facts in Brief. Contraceptive Use. The Alan Guttmacher Institute,
New York & Washington, 2006 (1/06).
2. Facts in Brief. Induced abortion in the United States. The Alan
Guttmacher Institute, New York & Washington, 2005 (5/05).
3. Smith MA, Shimp LA. Family Planning (Chapter 2) In: Smith MA,
Shimp LA, (eds): 20 Common Problems in Women's Health Care.
New York, McGraw-Hill, 2000.
4. Hatcher RA, et al. Contraceptive Technology (18th ed.) New York:
Ardent Media, Inc., 2004.