A new report shows which birth control methods are most commonly used in the U.S., and although first place is a classic, second place is a little surprising.
The report, released this month by the CDC, breaks down the popularity of birth control methods in the U.S. by how often they are used by women of different ages. The data came from about 5,600 women who participated in the 2011-2013 National Survey of Family Growth. Overall, about 62% of women between the ages of 15 and 44 use some method of birth control. The pill is the most common, used by 16% of those women. But, female sterilization is a close second — 15.5% of women reported choosing it.
Although sterilization seems like a drastic measure, when looking at the ages of the women who opted for it, the pattern becomes clearer. The majority of women who picked the procedure were between the ages of 34 and 44; according to researchers, most of these women have had as many children as they wanted to have, but could still become pregnant. For them, sterilization is a remarkably safe (and effective) procedure. Meanwhile, among women between the ages of 15 and 24, the pill was most commonly used.
Another surprise from the report: Only 7.2% of those surveyed said they used long-acting reversible contraceptives such as IUDs and implants. This may start to change, since just a few months ago, The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended using these as the "first-line" birth control choice for adolescents; they're relatively safe and don't require the user to remember to take a pill every day.
The report's key takeaway is actually not surprising at all: It proves that our birth control methods change as we age and our circumstances shift. Soon, we may have even more options.