Indicator 29. Contraceptive prevalence rate (MDG Indicator)

Rationale and definition:

The contraceptive prevalence rate is defined as the percentage of women of reproductive age who use (or whose partners use) a contraceptive method at a given point in time. Women ‘of reproductive age’ is usually defined as women aged 15 to 49, but sexually active adolescents under 15 should be included. Increased contraceptive prevalence is also an important proximate determinant of inter-country differences in fertility and of ongoing fertility declines in developing countries. Contraceptive prevalence is influenced by people’s fertility desires, availability of high-quality products and services; social norms and values; levels of education; and other factors, such as marriage patterns and traditional birth-spacing practices. It is an indicator of population and health, particularly women’s access to reproductive health services. The level of contraceptive use has a strong, direct effect on the total fertility rate (TFR) and, through the TFR, on the rate of population growth. It also serves as a proxy measure of access to reproductive health services that are essential for meeting many health targets, especially the targets related to child mortality, maternal health, HIV/AIDS, and gender equality.1


By age, urban/rural and marital status.

Comments and limitations:

Common limitations to this indicator include under-monitoring and underestimation of overall use, vague time references, and insufficient accuracy.

Preliminary assessment of current data availability by Friends of the Chair:


Primary data source:

Household surveys – some key surveys that include this information are: Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), Fertility and Family Surveys (FFS), Reproductive Health Surveys (RHS) conducted with assistance from the US CDC, Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS), and other national surveys.

Potential lead agency or agencies:

The UN Population Division and UNFPA could ensure the collection of internationally comparable data.

  1. UN Population Division (2011b). World Contraceptive Use 2011.