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Family planning and access to contraceptives

Family planning and access to contraceptives

Contraception provides people with the ability to plan their families. Over 200 million women world wide would like to avoid a pregnancy. However they lack access to or are not using an effective method of contraception. Reasons for this vary from each country but are related to a lack of supplies, cultural and political barriers and poor quality of services.

People living in poverty, people living with HIV and AIDS, young people and clients of post abortion care services face significant challenges to access contraceptive services in most countries. 

Contraceptive use has increased in many parts of the world, especially in Asia and Latin America, but continues to be low in sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania.  

The proportion of women in relationships aged 15–49, reporting use of any contraceptive method between 1990-2007 was:

Latin America and Caribbean62%72%

The need for family planning has remained high in most regions since 2000. It is lowest where contraceptive use is above 60%.

In sub-Saharan Africa 20% of women in relationships lack access to contraception. In the Caribbean it is 25%. In South-Eastern Asia and Northern Africa, 10% of women have unmet family planning needs.

Use of contraception by men are relatively low. The methods are limited to sterilization (vasectomy), condoms and withdrawal. Worldwide 11% of women aged 15-49 report that they rely on one of these methods in their marriage or formal union.

Contraceptive methods vary by region and country. In some regions female sterilization is widely used, while in others women prefer the pill and the IUD.  Recent access to emergency contraception has increased and now women in over 140 countries can buy emergency contraception (known as the morning after pill). In 60 countries, it is readily available over the counter. Efforts to increase access to the morning after pill have included ending restrictions on over-the-counter sales, providing it through the family planning programmes in public hospitals, and providing the pill for women who have been raped.