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The percentage of sexually experienced women who have ever used emergency contraception has increased over time. Ever-use of emergency contraception varied by age, marital status, Hispanic origin and race, and education. Nearly one-half of women who had ever used emergency contraception reported fear of method failure as a reason for use, but variation occurred by age, Hispanic origin and race, and education. Nearly one-half of women who had ever used emergency contraception gave having unprotected sex as a reason for use, but variation occurred across Hispanic origin and race, and education.
Most women who had ever used emergency contraception had done so once (59%) or twice (24%). Young adult women aged 20a€“24 were most likely to have ever used emergency contraception; about one in four had done so (23%). Almost 1 in 5 never-married women (19%), 1 in 7 cohabiting women (14%), and 1 in 20 currently or formerly married women (5.7%) had ever used emergency contraception. About one in two women reported using emergency contraception because of fear of method failure (45%), and about one in two reported use because they had unprotected sex (49%). Emergency contraception can be used by women after sexual intercourse in an effort to prevent an unintended pregnancy. Nearly one in four (23%) sexually experienced women aged 20a€“24 had ever used emergency contraception, compared with 16% of women aged 25a€“29 and 14% of women aged 15a€“19 (Figure 2). A larger proportion of never-married women had ever used emergency contraception (19%) compared with women who were cohabiting (14%) or currently or formerly married (5.7%).
Non-Hispanic white and Hispanic women were more likely to have ever used emergency contraception (11%) compared with non-Hispanic black women (7.9%).
Ever-use of emergency contraception increased with educational attainmenta€”12% of women with a bachelor's degree or higher and 11% of women with some college education had ever used it. A larger percentage of older women, those aged 30a€“44 (52%), reported using emergency contraception because they feared that the contraceptive method they used would not work, compared with 34% of women aged 15a€“19 (Figure 3).
A larger percentage of non-Hispanic white women (53%) reported emergency contraceptive use due to fear of method failure compared with non-Hispanic black (27%) and Hispanic women (33%).
The percentage of women reporting use of emergency contraception because of fear of method failure increased with more educationa€”from 26% of women with less than a high school education to 58% of women with a bachelor's degree or higher. The percentage of women in each age group reporting that they used emergency contraception because they had unprotected sex was similar, around 50% (Figure 4). Hispanic women (59%) and non-Hispanic black women (60%) more often reported using emergency contraception because they had unprotected sex compared with non-Hispanic white women (43%). The percentage of women reporting use of emergency contraception because of unprotected sex decreased with more educationa€”from 62% of those with less than a high school education to 43% of women with a bachelor's degree or higher.


In 2006a€“2010, one in nine sexually experienced women aged 15a€“44 had used emergency contraception at least once. Among women who had ever used emergency contraception, nearly equal percentages of women, around 50%, reported having used it because of fear of method failure and because of unprotected sex. When looking at age differences, it should be kept in mind that not all women had access to emergency contraception during the earlier portion of their reproductive years. Education: Educational attainment at the time of interview, indicating the highest grade or degree finished. Emergency contraception: Methods that women can use after sexual intercourse in instances where a method of contraception was not used during intercourse, or if a woman thought the method that she and her partner used might fail to protect them from an unintended pregnancy.
This report presents descriptive statistics on ever-use, frequency of use, and reasons for use of emergency contraception by women's characteristics at the time of interview, not cause-and-effect relationships. Kimberly Daniels, Jo Jones, and Joyce Abma are with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics, Division of Vital Statistics, Reproductive Statistics Branch. All material appearing in this report is in the public domain and may be reproduced or copied without permission; citation as to source, however, is appreciated. In 2006a€“2010, of women who had ever used emergency contraception, 59% had used it once, 24% had used it twice, and 17% had used it three or more times.
Older women had used emergency contraception less than younger women, with 5.0% of women aged 30a€“44 having ever used it.
Reasons for use are not mutually exclusive, women could provide more than one response; see a€?Data source and methodsa€? section for details. The ever-use of emergency contraception was most common among women aged 20a€“24, those who never married, Hispanic or non-Hispanic white women, and those who attended college. Non-Hispanic black and Hispanic women and those with less education were more likely to have used emergency contraception because of unprotected sex, compared with women of other characteristics. It was expected that older women would have used emergency contraception less frequently than younger women for reasons of both supply and demand: Emergency contraception was not FDA approved in their early reproductive years, and the use of sterilization as a contraceptive method increases with age, consequently decreasing the potential demand for emergency contraception (6). Analyses by education were limited to women aged 22a€“44 at the time of interview because large percentages of women aged 15a€“21 are still attending school. The 2006a€“2010 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) did not specifically ask about IUD use for emergency contraception. Women could give multiple responses to this question because they may have had more than one reason or used emergency contraception multiple times for different reasons. Of the sample of women aged 15a€“44 in the 2006a€“2010 NSFG, 87% had ever had sexual intercourse.
NSFG provides population-level information about lifetime and recent use of emergency contraception among U.S.


A link to a data table that includes percentages and standard errors is listed in the footnotes of each figure.
Current contraceptive use in the United States, 2006a€“2010, and changes in patterns of use since 1995.
The efficacy of intrauterine devices for emergency contraception: A systematic review of 35 years of experience. The FDA first approved emergency contraceptive pills in 1998, but there is evidence of limited use of hormonal contraceptives for emergency contraception since the 1960s (3,4). Older women, non-Hispanic white women, and women with more education more often used emergency contraception because of fear of method failure, compared with women of other characteristics.
Additionally, differences across marital status and other groups presented here could be confounded by age; for instance, married women are on average older than never-married women. Using the full age range of 15a€“44 would misclassify many young women still attending school as having low educational attainment.
Although not shown in the figures, the supplemental data tables provide information on variation in ever-use and reasons for use of emergency contraception by region and metropolitan residence. Now, there are at least four brands of emergency contraceptive pills; most are available over the counter for women aged 17 and over (5).
Additional questions in the data set related to the use of emergency contraception are not presented here. Although insertion of a copper intrauterine device can be used for emergency contraception (1,4), this report focuses only on emergency contraceptive pills. A weighted least-squares regression method was used to test the significance of the time trend and differences across education. This report describes trends and variation in the use of emergency contraception and reasons for use among sexually experienced women aged 15a€“44 using the 2006a€“2010 National Survey of Family Growth.
Lack of comment regarding the difference between any two statistics does not mean that the difference was tested and found not to be significant. In the description of the results, when the percentage being cited is below 10%, the text cites the percentage to one decimal point. To make reading easier and to remind the reader that the results are based on samples and subject to sampling error, percentages of 10% and above are shown rounded to the nearest whole number.



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