Back to browse results
Contraception needs and pregnancy termination in sub-Saharan Africa: a multilevel analysis of demographic and health survey data
Authors: Kenneth Setorwu Adde, Kwamena Sekyi Dickson, Edward Kwabena Ameyaw, and Joshua Amo-Adjei
Source: Reproductive Health, Volume 18, Article number: 177; DOI:
Topic(s): Abortion
Unintended pregnancy
Unmet need
Country: Africa
  Multiple African Countries
Published: AUG 2021
Abstract: Background: Women in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) have a higher risk of unintended pregnancies that are more likely to be terminated, most of which are unsafe with associated complications. Unmet need for contraception is highest in SSA and exceeds the global average. This study investigates the association between unmet/met need for contraception and pregnancy termination SSA. Methods: We used pooled data from Demographic and Health Surveys conducted from January 2010 to December 2018 in 32 countries in SSA. Our study involved 265,505 women with diverse contraception needs and with complete data on all variables of interest. Multilevel logistic regression at 95% CI was used to investigate the association between individual and community level factors and pregnancy termination. Results: We found an overall pregnancy termination rate of 16.27% ranging from 9.13% in Namibia to 38.68% in Gabon. Intriguingly, women with a met need for contraception were more likely to terminate a pregnancy [aOR = 1.11; 95% CI 1.07–1.96] than women with unmet needs. Women with secondary education were more likely to terminate a pregnancy as compared to those without education [aOR = 1.23; 95% CI 1.19–1.27]. With regards to age, we observed that every additional age increases the likelihood of terminating a pregnancy. At the contextual level, the women with female household heads were less likely to terminate a pregnancy [aOR = 0.95; 95% CI 0.92–0.97]. The least socio-economically disadvantaged women were less likely to terminate a pregnancy compared to the moderately and most socio-economically disadvantaged women. Conclusions: Our study contributes towards the discussion on unmet/met need for contraception and pregnancy termination across SSA. Women with met need for contraception have higher odds of terminating a pregnancy. The underlying cause of this we argued could be poor adherence to the protocols of contraceptives or the reluctance of women to utilise contraceptives after experiencing a failure. Governments of SSA and non-governmental organisations need to take pragmatic steps to increase met needs for contraception and also utilise mass media to encourage women to adhere to the prescription of contraceptives in order to reduce the incidence of unplanned pregnancies and unsafe abortions.