Foreigners use the pill more, sterilization less

Published May 26, 2010

ATLANTA – The pill is still the No. 1 contraceptive for American women, but it's even more popular in other countries, according the first government report comparing nations.

Sterilization, however, is used more here, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Wednesday.

In the U.S., 16 percent of married women say they use the pill. That compares to 29 percent in the United Kingdom and more than 40 percent in the Netherlands and France.

About one in four U.S. married women have been sterilized. Most of the other six countries who report sterilization figures had rates below 10 percent.

The patterns appear to be similar for all women, not just the married ones.

International comparisons are sometimes difficult because some nations only have information on married women, explained William Mosher, an author of the new report.

The U.S. numbers are based on in-person interviews of more than 7,300 women of childbearing age nationwide from 2006 through 2008.

The new report finds that contraception choices by U.S. women have remained remarkably stable. The percentage of women using the pill remained at around 17 percent overall, though it's much more popular among women who have never had children — more than half of them use it.

The rate for sterilization for U.S. women is 17 percent overall, and about a quarter for married women.

The United States has seen a variety of new contraception options for women in the last decade, including a vaginal ring and a skin patch. Though many women have tried them, fewer than 2 percent said they used one of those methods.

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Online:

CDC report: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nsfg.htm

Written by MIKE STOBBE, AP Medical Writer

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