Contraceptive discontinuations contribute substantially to the total fertility rate, unwanted pregnancies, and induced abortions. This study examines levels and trends in contraceptive switching, contraceptive failure, and abandonment of contraception while still in need of pregnancy prevention. Data come from the two most recent Demographic and Health Surveys in Armenia, Bangladesh, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Indonesia, Kenya, and Zimbabwe. Results show that contraceptive discontinuation in the first year of use is common (18 to 63 percent across countries), and that the majority of these discontinuations are among women who are still in need of contraception: between 12 and 47 percent of women stop using contraception within one year even though they do not want to become pregnant. We found discontinuation to be strongly associated with the type of contraceptive method used. Additionally, age, parity, education, partner’s desired fertility, community-level contraceptive prevalence, and the region in which women live were all associated with contraceptive switching, failure, or discontinuing while still in need of contraception. In summary, rates of contraceptive discontinuation, even among women who want to avoid pregnancy, remain high and are increasing in some countries where family planning efforts have decreased. This contraceptive discontinuation study, along with future research in this area, can help policymakers and program managers track family planning progress and refocus efforts to meet the goal of reproductive health for all.
DHS Analytical Studies
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The DHS (Demographic and Health Surveys) Program is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
Bradley, Sarah E.K., Hilary M. Schwandt, and Shane Khan. 2009. Levels, Trends, and Reasons for Contraceptive Discontinuation. DHS Analytical Studies No. 20. Calverton, Maryland, USA: ICF Macro.