Back to browse results
Standardizing Measurement of Contraceptive Use among Unmarried Women
Authors: Madeleine Short Fabic, and Apoorva Jadhav
Source: Global Health: Science and Practice, 7(4): 564-574; DOI: 10.9745/GHSP-D-19-00298
Topic(s): Contraception
Family planning
Unmet need
Women's health
Country: More than one region
  Multiple Regions
Published: DEC 2019
Abstract: Historically, the family planning practices and needs of married women have been monitored and reported uniformly. However, the same uniformity does not hold for unmarried women. Because key data and information platforms employ different measurement approaches—namely, different definitions of sexual recency—reports of contraceptive prevalence and unmet need among unmarried women are inconsistent. We examine how the measurement approaches employed by 3 large organizations yield such divergent estimates. We find that contraceptive prevalence and unmet need estimates among married women do not vary much by sexual recency. For unmarried women, contraceptive prevalence is systematically lower and unmet need is systematically higher as the sexual recency window widens. In the short term, we recommend using the 1-month cutoff as analyses reveal it yields the most precise estimates for better recognizing the needs of this important demographic group.