More contraceptive technologies needed to reduce unmet need

11th May 2011

Seven out of 10 women in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Central Asia and Southeast Asia who want to avoid pregnancy but are not using modern contraceptives report reasons for nonuse that indicate currently available methods do not satisfy their needs, according to new Guttmacher research. The findings suggest that substantially bringing down unintended pregnancy rates in these developing regions will require increased investment in the development of new methods that better address women’s concerns and life circumstances. 

The report, Contraceptive Technologies: Responding to Women’s Needs, focuses on the three regions that together account for the majority of women in the developing world with an unmet need for contraception. Overall, 40% of pregnancies in these regions—about 49 million—are unintended. Each year, these pregnancies result in 21 million unplanned births, an equal number of abortions (three-quarters of which are unsafe) and 116,000 maternal deaths. 

To gain insight into why so many women in developing countries are not using modern contraceptives, researchers analyzed nationally representative data from Demographic and Health Surveys and other sources. The reasons women most frequently give for not using a method are concerns about health risks or side effects (23%); infrequent sex (21%); being postpartum or breast-feeding (17%); and opposition from their partners (10%).

The findings shed light on the types of methods that could have the greatest impact on increasing contraceptive use: Developing new contraceptive methods that have negligible side effects, are appropriate for breast-feeding women and could be used on demand has the potential to greatly reduce unmet need for contraception. So would methods that women can use without their partner’s knowledge.

Click the link above to access the full report. A press release can be viewed here.

Categories: Featured, New/Underused RH Technologies Caucus

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