Approximately 45% of the annual pregnancies in the United States are unintended, meaning they are either unwanted or poorly timed.1 Unintended pregnancies, especially teenage pregnancies, can significantly affect the mother, infant, and society.
Hormonal contraception is used to intentionally prevent unwanted pregnancies while allowing the flexibility of later having children when desired.2 An estimated 46 million US women aged 15 to 49 in 2018 were sexually active while not desiring to become pregnant. In 2018, 65% of US women aged 15 to 49 used a contraceptive method. More than 99% of US women aged 15 to 44 have used at least one contraceptive method as of 20083.
According to the CDC, 14.0% of women aged 15 to 49 use oral contraception, 10.4% use long-acting reversible contraception, 18.1% of women aged 15 to 49 underwent sterilization, and 5.6% of women aged 15 to 49 report their male partners were sterilized.4 Contraceptive use increased with age, from 37.2% among women aged 15 to 19 to 73.7% among women aged 40 to 49.5
Unemployment, low educational attainment, and poverty are associated with an unintended pregnancy. Unintended pregnancies may delay proper prenatal care or facilitate unhealthy behaviors which pose risks to the fetus resulting in prematurity, congenital disabilities, or infant mortality. Teenage pregnancies cost the healthcare system $9.1 billion per year.6
A 2010 study examined the economic impact of publicly funded hormonal contraception. It estimated that one million unplanned births were prevented that year. Of those prevented births, 150,000 were estimated to be premature births, with another 300,000 closely spaced births. Closely spaced births are associated with an increased risk of fetal and maternal mortality and morbidity.7 Access to early contraception was estimated to increase women’s enrollment in college by 20% and is responsible for one-third of the total wage gains experienced by women since 1960.8
Family planning access is associated with lower rates of childhood poverty, higher child educational attainment, and lower rates of maternal mortality by preventing high risk, high parity births.9-11 Allowing pharmacists to prescribe hormonal contraception increases access and can help decrease the adverse health effects and economic toll of unintended pregnancy.
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