Impacts of Modern Contraceptive Use

Indicators 5–8

From July 2015-July 2016, modern contraceptive use by 300 million women across the 69 focus countries averted an estimated 82 million unintended pregnancies, 25 million unsafe abortions, and 124,000 maternal deaths.

Core Indicators 5-8 (Estimate Tables 5-8) tell us about the impact of modern contraceptive use and the consequences of non-use. This set of indicators provide powerful messages about why family planning is so important, and help us to contextualize the impact that contraceptive use is having on the lives of women. By choosing to use modern contraceptives, women are less likely to experience unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions, and maternal mortality.

The figure above shows the total impact across the focus countries, based on Core Indicators 6, 7, and 8. As a result of the more than 300 million women using modern contraception, more than 82 million unintended pregnancies were prevented in 2016 compared to the number that would occur if no modern contraceptives were used. Preventing these unintended pregnancies has in turn averted 25 million unsafe abortions and 124,000 maternal deaths. These numbers represent the total impact of the more than 300 million women using modern contraception across FP2020 countries—not just the impact from the 30.2 million additional users of modern contraception in 2016.

It is important to recognize that even in 2012, existing contraceptive use was having a large impact: in that year, it is estimated that modern contraceptive use across the 69 focus countries averted 74 million unintended pregnancies. This means that in 2016, efforts to reach additional users and improve access to a range of methods have resulted in 8 million more unintended pregnancies averted than just 4 years ago (see figure below).

Despite the large impact that modern contraceptive use has on reducing unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions, and maternal mortality, an estimated 42.8 million women still experienced an unintended pregnancy across FP2020 countries in 2016 (as shown by Core Indicator 5). Most of these unintended pregnancies were due to women not using modern contraception despite not wanting to get pregnant, while some were due to women who were using a modern method experiencing a contraceptive failure. As we look to 2020, more rapid acceleration toward the goal of reaching more women with modern methods will help ensure that fewer women experience unintended pregnancies and their potential consequences. But we must also continue to work to ensure that all women, including existing users, have access to a wide range of modern methods.