It takes time for a family to decide to use contraceptives, and there are barriers to it. In the United States, contraception is often provided without cost to most families (although some insurance plans cover, or are subject to, some or all of the costs). The amount spent on family planning varies, but it is usually in the billions of dollars. This is due to many factors, including:
Cost. For example, in the United States, family planning methods are often free (often with a doctor's appointment) or heavily subsidized by government programs.
Cost. In some cases, this means that family planning is not covered by a family's insurance; for the elderly, this is difficult because their health benefits may not go far enough to pay for the cost. However, many insurance companies offer low cost birth control options to families, depending on individual circumstances.
Access. The availability of modern information and practices regarding birth control makes it more accessible than ever for families to make informed decisions about their pregnancies and their lives.
Most cultures in the world allow for a high number of children, and many people think of pregnancy as a "woman's responsibility" rather than an inevitable and natural process.
Birth control is often seen as a personal choice, rather than a social responsibility. As more families in the world have grown up with more children, the amount of contraceptive use is increasing worldwide.
The United States
The United States has a very relaxed view of women's ability to plan their births and has not restricted access to birth control. The U.S. is the world leader in total family consumption of family planning resources. According to figures from the World Health Organization:
More than two-thirds of Americans (66 percent) are regularly using contraceptives.
Nearly one-third use only a patch or ring, and a third uses no additional birth control methods at all.
Nearly one-third of women ages 15-44 have used contraceptives in their most recent menstrual period — just 8 percent of women aged 20-34.
Less than 10 percent of women have used a contraceptive method more than once in their lifetime.
One-third of pregnancies in America are unintended — meaning women are not using the method of birth control for medical reasons or to prevent a pregnancy.
The United States has fewer abortions per capita than any other nation, and the rate for induced abortions (birth control by abortion) in the United States is one of the lowest in the world. For more information, please see our Facts and Figures section.
One of the most conservative countries in the world, Canada prohibits women from getting abortions except for serious medical reasons, such as rape, incest, and fatal foetal abnormality. Because Canada has a law prohibiting abortion except for certain situations, many parents have told us that it is difficult, even impossible.