Women use 3.4 birth control methods in their lifetime

Mar 21, 2023

Women are fertile for approximately 30 years of their lives, roughly from their teenage years until their mid-40’s. On average, each woman in the United States will bear 1.6 children, which means that most sexually active women will be using birth control for 25-30 years.

On average, a woman in the US will use 3.4 methods of birth control during her fertile years.

It comes as no surprise that over roughly three decades, women need to rely on more than one type of birth control to prevent unintended pregnancy. On average, a woman in the US will use 3.4 birth control methods during her fertile years. This average does not reflect the experience of every woman. The number and types of birth control methods used by each woman depends on a variety of factors, including her personal needs and preferences, access to education and the methods themselves, as well as changes in partners, risk, and health status.
Lifestyle African American Couple

Let’s look at 6 common reasons women change birth control methods:

Side effects

Some women may experience unwanted side effects from their birth control method, such as nausea, weight gain, or mood changes. If side effects become intolerable, she may choose to switch to a different method.


Some women may prefer to opt for a different birth control method, or a combination of methods, for increased protection. For example, women may choose to combine some form of cycle tracking with a barrier method or a birth control cream or gel during their fertile days or anytime in their cycle for extra protection.


Women may experience medical conditions that necessitate a change in birth control. For example, a woman may experience blood clots and may need to stop using all hormone-based birth control products.


The ease of use and convenience of a birth control method can be important in a woman’s decision to switch methods. For example, a woman may switch from a daily pill to a long-acting method, like an IUD, that does not require daily attention. Alternatively, a woman may want to use an on-demand method only on the days she needs protection.


The cost of birth control can also be a significant consideration in a woman’s decision to switch methods. If a woman’s insurance coverage or financial situation changes, she may need to switch to a more affordable method, or have more options open to her.

Lifestyle changes

Age, desire for children, and change in partner influence what method will meet women’s needs at that time. Here is an example: A woman who wants to start a family may switch from a hormonal method to a non-hormonal method in preparation for pregnancy.

“Ultimately The choice to explore different birth control options is a highly personal decision that involves many factors.”

Ultimately, the choice to explore different  birth control options is a highly personal decision that involves many factors.  It is important for women to be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of all the methods available to them, and to discuss these options with their safe partner and healthcare provider to ensure that they are choosing a method that is safe and effective for them.

If you are considering a change in birth control, take our three minute quiz to see if SWC may be a good fit for you.

Women’s sexual and reproductive health services: Key findings from the 2020 KFF Women’s Health Survey. KFF. Retrieved March 15, 2023, from