Women are using contraception to significantly enhance their life goals.  This is the main thrust of a new study by the Guttmacher Institute: “Reasons for using contraception: Perspectives of US women seeking care at specialized family planning clinics.”  Focussed on American women, results would likely be similar in Canada.  

The study surveyed 2,094 women receiving services from 22 family planning clinics throughout the US, enquiring about the individual-level benefits and reasons for using contraception.  Key findings: birth control use had allowed women to take better care of themselves and/or their families (63%), to support themselves financially (56%), complete their education (51%), or keep or get a job (50%).  As to financial benefits, the following link takes you to an info-graphic about the costs of raising a child. Again, costs are comparable in Canada.

Click on the link to see the full graphic:  http://www.earlychildhoodeducation.com/cost-of-a-child/


See: http://www.guttmacher.org/media/nr/2012/09/25/index.html

The full report is available here (PDF): http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/j.contraception.2012.08.012.pdf

New evidence confirms what most people already believe: Women use contraception because it allows them to take better care of themselves and their families, to complete their education and to achieve economic security, according to “Reasons for Using Contraception: Perspectives of U.S. Women Seeking Care at Specialized Family Planning Clinics,” by Jennifer Frost and Laura Lindberg of the Guttmacher Institute.

“Women value the ability to plan childbearing, and view doing so as critical to being able to achieve their life goals,” says study author Laura Lindberg. “They need continued access to a wide range of contraceptives so they can plan their families and determine when they are ready to have children.”

Few previous studies have asked women directly why they use contraception and what benefits they expect or have achieved from its use. To fill the gap, the authors surveyed 2,094 women receiving services at 22 family planning clinics nationwide.

The majority of participants reported that contraception has had a significant impact on their lives.  It has allowing them to take better care of themselves or their families, especially other children (63%), to support themselves financially (56%), complete their education (51%), or keep or get a job (50%).

Asked why they seek contraceptive services, women expressed concerns about the consequences of an unintended pregnancy on their families’ and their own lives. The single most frequently cited reason for using contraception was that mothers could not afford to take care of another baby at that time (65%). Nearly one in four women reported that they or their partners were unemployed, an important reason for their contraceptive use. Amongst women with children, nearly all reported that the desire to care better for their current children was a reason for contraceptive use.

Many women reported interrelated reasons for using contraception, suggesting that the complexities of women’s lives influence their decision to use contraception and their choice of method. Other reasons, reported by a majority of respondents, include not being ready to have children (63%), feeling that using birth control gives them better control over their lives (60%) and wanting to wait until their lives are more stable to have a baby (60%).

These findings point to the critical role of contraception in the lives of women and their families, and further documents the value of ensuring women’s continued and increased access to a full range of contraceptive services and methods. This would seem as true in the developing world as it is in North America.

“Notably, the reasons women give for using contraception are similar to the reasons they give for seeking an abortion,” according to Lawrence B. Finer, author of a previous Guttmacher study on that topic. “This means we should see access to abortion in the broader context of women’s lives and their efforts to avoid unplanned childbearing, in light of its potential consequences for them and their families.”

“Reasons for Using Contraception: Perspectives of U.S. Women Seeking Care at Specialized Family Planning Clinics” is available online and will appear in a forthcoming issue of the journal Contraception.