Use of Contraceptives Among American Women Has Dropped 30% Over the Last 4 Years

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The CDC estimates that around 41% of women of childbearing age are currently using some type of contraceptive. While it’s understandable that women trying to get pregnant would not be using birth control, the number might still seem a little low to the layman.

That’s because the number has been dropping significantly since 2012. In that year, the CDC estimated that just over 61% of women aged 15-44 were using contraceptives. A 30% total drop in the span of just four years is shocking, but there are two culprits that stand out as having caused this: rising prices and shame campaigns.

Birth control prices have been on the rise since the early 2000s, but since 2012, they have risen about 25% on average. Insurance companies should be taking a majority of the blame for this, since they have been introducing higher co-pays on both the pill and other reversible methods of contraception.

Still, a not-so-insignificant price rise wouldn’t account for the large drop in birth control usage, mainly because there has been more pressure from outside sources for women to not take contraceptives than ever before. Shame campaigns are hard to quantify, but the signs are all around us. Many people think that birth control is murder, or at least something that should be avoided at all costs.

That, along with the fact that many people may not self-report taking contraceptives (especially younger women), may hold the key to understanding why contraceptive use has gone down so much in the past four years.