Marital and Non-Marital Contraception in Sub-Saharan Africa

Jacob A. Adetunji, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)

Although contraceptive use is not limited to people in marital unions, the conventional indicators of family planning programs focus on contraceptive prevalence among women in unions. Very few systematic analyses exist on the contraceptive behavior of single but sexually active women (SSAW). Therefore, using data from 15 sub-Saharan African countries that have participated three or more times in the DHS program, this paper investigates the patterns and trends in modern contraceptive use among SSAW and women in unions. The results show that modern contraceptive prevalence is much higher among among SSAW than among married women. The ratio is as high as 10:1 and the rate of increase in non-marital contraception is very steep, leading to a wide marital/mon-marital divergence in prevalence in several countries. Condoms are the most common method among SSAW while injectables predominate among women in unions. The implications of these results are discussed.

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Presented in Session 155: Emerging Patterns in Contraceptive Use in Africa