Women achieving childbearing desires drives contraception use: Study finds more alignment in reproductive desires and behaviors

The increased use of contraception in many countries is not because more women at any moment want to delay pregnancy or have no further children. Instead, it is because contraception is helping more women achieve their childbearing goals.

This is the overwhelming conclusion from a study of national survey data from 59 low- and middle-income countries around the world.

Results showed that 85-90% of the change in contraception use is attributable to meeting the prevalent demand for reproductive control, versus only 10-15% attributable to an increase in the fraction of women who want to avoid pregnancy.

“Contraception use is increasing because women are more successfully carrying through on their preferences, achieving what they want. It’s not due to large increases in the proportion of women who want to avoid pregnancy,” said Mobolaji Ibitoye, lead author of the study and postdoctoral scholar at The Ohio State University’s Institute for Population Research.

The rise in use of modern contraceptives in low- and middle-income countries over the past few decades has sparked a long-running debate on whether the increase is due to women wanting fewer children or not, said John Casterline, co-author of the study and professor of sociology at Ohio State’s IPR.

One of the most surprising things about this new study is how definitively it answered that question, Casterline said.

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