Contraceptive use in adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa: Evidence from demographic and health surveys

Rebekah J. McCurdy, Peter F. Schnatz, Paul J. Weinbaum, Junjia Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Objective: Failure to use contraceptives contributes to an unacceptably high rate of undesired pregnancy in Sub-Saharan adolescents with associated maternal and neonatal mortality/morbidity. Evidence-based research is needed to understand contraceptive usage in Sub-Saharan adolescents and to enable appropriate allocation of donor resources. Design: Nationally-representative USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development) Demographic and Health Surveys from 18 least developed Sub-Saharan African nations. Population: 212, 819 Sub-Saharan African women (45, 054 were 15-19 years old). Methods: The percentages of adolescents using contraception, as well as their preferred contraceptive methods and desired family size, were reported. Main Outcome Measures: Contraceptive Use, Neonatal Mortality, Undesired Pregnancy, Pregnancy Terminations. Results: Most adolescents (92.4%) surveyed reported no contraceptive use, although 21.6% reported recent sexual activity. A current pregnancy was reported in 6.6% (n=2, 951) of adolescents with 29.9% of these pregnancies being unwanted. Many surveyed adolescents (18.8%) had at least one prior birth. A death of the previous child was reported in 6.6% (n=560) with half of these deaths (n=276) occurring within the first month of life. Many adolescents planned to delay childbearing for at least two years (37.1%) or were unsure about future timing (33.3%), and 2.2% reported a history of at least one pregnancy termination. Most adolescents (73.1%) felt it would be a problem if they became pregnant. Adolescents indicated injectable medications and contraceptive pills were the preferred future contraceptives at 39.9% and 31.4% respectively. Conclusions: Sub-Saharan African adolescents report a mismatch between desire for contraception and use; preferred methods are oral and injectable contraceptives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-272
Number of pages12
JournalConnecticut medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Contraceptive use in adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa: Evidence from demographic and health surveys'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this