1 in 7 women don’t use birth control

Feb 12, 2023

One in seven sexually active women of child-bearing age in the US do not use birth control. These women are not trying to conceive. Rather, they are playing a game of chance because they believe that this is the only or best option available that meets their social, economic, and/or cultural expectations. Read on to learn more about how it doesn’t have to be this way!)

The breakdown

Let’s start with numbers so you can see how big this issue really is.

In 2018, there were more than 58 million women in the US between the ages of 18 and 44. Based on an average of 70% of women being sexually active, that equals 40.6 million fertile women who are sexually active.

When we divide 40.6 million by 7, we get 5.8 million. 5,800,000 women, between the ages of 18 and 44, that are not trying to conceive choose to use no birth control.

That’s a massive number of women risking unintended pregnancy!

Why might a woman accept such a high risk to experience unintended pregnancy?

Here are the top five reasons:

1. Previous side effect(s) from birth control method(s). Many women are dissatisfied with the common birth control options available today, largely because they have experienced unpleasant, and even harmful, side effects from methods they have already used, and refuse to use again. The average woman in the United States uses 3.4 contraceptive methods in her lifetime. Side effects are or can be a top reason to change methods as well.

2. Both partners are unable to agree on a method, or methods that suit their needs. Ultimately, both partners need to feel adequately protected from pregnancy and from STI’s. Mutually safe sex is consensual sex.

Additionally, and we believe just as important, both partners should also feel that the relationship is safe. In a completely safe relationship, both partners work together to create a plan that honors and protects the needs and desires of both partners equally.

3. Cultural practices can limit options. Cultural practices and observances may limit birth control and family planning options in a variety of ways. These include: personal convictions, family traditions, and even community expectations.

Choice may be based on personal conviction, willingly adopted by a person from their family or community, or a person may experience an outside expectation that is pressed onto them (family expectations for grandchildren to continue a family line is just one example).

Affecting even more than the person’s choice for birth control, this choice could also be attached to one’s acceptance in their community.

4. Lack of education about methods available. Now is a great time to be seeking natural, effective birth control. There are more options than ever, and one or more methods may fit your needs perfectly!

5. Positivity Bias. Have you ever said, “That won’t happen to me?” If so, you have fallen for the positivity bias, or a tendency to favor the positive outcome. In regard to unprotected sex when not trying to conceive, this would mean that even though there odds of pregnancy with unprotected sex are 85%, you and/or your partner do not believe that you will not become pregnant.

There’s Hope!

Do you identify with the 1 in 7?
If so, our hope is that your primary takeaway is that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. And second, there are good options out there that we’d love to help you explore, and find one that works for you.

Next Steps

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Citations: Brittni Frederiksen, U. R. (2021, April 21). Women’s sexual and reproductive health services: Key findings from the 2020 KFF Women’s Health Survey. KFF. Retrieved December 12,2022 , from

2018 Census data