Chief, Fertility and Family Planning Section, Population Division, DESA
Two UN Plaza, Room DC2-1988, New York, NY 10017
Senior Monitoring and Evaluation Adviser
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
Postal Address:605 Third Avenue, New York NY 10158 USA
Telephone: +1 212 297 5281
Fax: +1 212 297 4915
Contraceptive prevalence, modern methods is the percentage of women married or in-union aged 15 to 49 who are currently using, or whose sexual partner is using, at least one modern method of contraception, regardless of the method used.
Modern methods of contraception include female and male sterilization, oral hormonal pills, the intra-uterine device (IUD), the male condom, injectables, the implant (including Norplant), vaginal barrier methods, the female condom and emergency contraception.
For further reference see:
United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2015).World Contraceptive Use 2015 (POP/DB/CP/Rev2015) (http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/publications/dataset/contraception/wcu2015.shtml)
World Health Organization (2006). Reproductive Health Indicators: Guidelines for their Generation, Interpretation and Analysis for Global Monitoring. Geneva: World Health Organization (http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2006/924156315X_eng.pdf)
MEASURE DHS (2006). Guide to DHS Statistics, Demographic and Health Surveys Methodology under “Current Use of Contraceptive Methods” (http://dhsprogram.com/publications/publication-dhsg1-dhs-questionnaires-and-manuals.cfm).)
Contraceptive prevalence, modern methods is generally estimated from nationally representative sample survey data. Differences in the survey design and implementation, as well as differences in the way survey questionnaires are formulated and administered can affect the comparability of the data. The most common differences relate to the range of contraceptive methods included and the characteristics (age, sex, marital or union status) of the persons for whom contraceptive prevalence is estimated (base population). The time frame used to assess the prevalence of modern contraceptive methods can also vary. In most surveys there is no definition of what is meant by “currently using” a modern method of contraception.
When data on the use of modern contraceptive methods among married or in-union women aged 15 to 49 are not available, information on contraceptive prevalence for the next most comparable group of persons is reported. Illustrations of base populations that are sometimes presented are: married or in-union women aged 15-44, sexually active women (irrespective of marital status), ever-married women, or men and women who are married or in a union. When information on current use of modern methods is not available, data on use of modern contraceptive methods at last sexual intercourse or during the previous year are utilized. Footnotes are employed to indicate any differences between the data presented and the standard definition of contraceptive prevalence, modern methods.
In some surveys, the lack of probing questions, asked to ensure that the respondent understands the meaning of the different contraceptive methods, can result in an underestimation of contraceptive prevalence. Sampling variability can also be an issue, especially when contraceptive prevalence, modern methods is measured for a specific subgroup (according to method, age-group, level of educational attainment, place of residence, etc.) or when analyzing trends over time.
In principle, there is no discrepancy between global and national figures as national data are not modified except in the case of known errata in the reported figures.
In some cases, countries use estimates of contraceptive prevalence, modern methods for national monitoring based on administrative sources instead of representative sample surveys. Those figures are not used for global monitoring since they are known to be of difficult comparability.
Data are produced by the United Nations Population Division using data from nationally representative surveys including the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), the Fertility and Family Surveys (FFS), the CDC-assisted Reproductive Health Surveys (RHS), the Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) and national family planning, health, household, or socio-economic surveys. Survey data from sources other than the National Statistical system are included when other data are not available.
The data are taken from published survey reports or, in exceptional cases, other published analytic reports. If clarification is needed, contact is made with the survey sponsors or authoring organization, which occasionally may supply corrected or adjusted estimates in response.
In general, all nationally representative surveys with comparable questions on current use of modern contraceptive methods are included.
For information on the source of each data point, see United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2015). 2015 Update for the MDG Database: Contraceptive Prevalence (POP/DB/CP/A/MDG2015) (http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/publications/dataset/fertility/data/2015_Update_MDG(5.3)_CP.xlsx)
There is no attempt to provide estimates when country data are not available, except for the estimation of regional and global averages.
Data are available for 182 countries and areas and for 730 data points. For 156 countries and areas there are at least two available data points.
Since the questions correspond to current use of contraceptives, contraceptive prevalence, modern methods is measured at the time of interview. There is a lag, generally between one and four years, between the date of interview and the diffusion of the survey report. In cases where the interviews are held in two different years, the latest year is given as the reference year. On average, the surveys are undertaken every three to five years.
The dataset is updated annually by the United Nations Population Division.
The dataset is updated annually and results are published in the United Nations Population Division’s World Contraceptive Use.