The Impact of Contraceptive Failure on Unintended Pregnancy and Abortion

Sarah E.K. Bradley, Macro International Inc.
Trevor N. Croft, Macro International Inc.

This paper focuses on unintended pregnancies resulting from contraceptive failure, using recent data from 14 nationally representative Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) from 2002-2008 to estimate: 1) The prevalence of contraceptive failure by contraceptive method. 2) The proportion of unintended pregnancies that result from contraceptive failure. 3) Levels of unintended pregnancy and abortion (non-live births) with and without contraceptive failure. The percentage of unintended (mistimed or unwanted) pregnancies resulting from contraceptive failure varies widely across countries, from 6 percent in Malawi to 50 percent in the Ukraine. Similarly, non-live births resulting from failures, which include induced abortions as well as miscarriages and stillbirths, vary from 4 percent in Malawi to 48 percent in the Ukraine. Preliminary results from this study indicate that eliminating contraceptive failure could lead to declines of between 2 and 13 percentage points in rates of unintended pregnancy and up to 14 percentage points in non-live births.

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Presented in Session 69: Methodological and Substantive Issues in Studies of Unwanted Fertility