OBJECTIVE: To measure the prevalence of contraceptive use among women of reproductive age in 17 sub-Saharan Africa countries and identify factors associated with contraceptive use in these countries.
STUDY DESIGN: We conducted a population-based cross-sectional study using data on contraceptive use from the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) for 17 sub-Saharan Africa countries (Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, and Uganda). We restricted our sample to women aged 15-49 years and used generalized estimating equations to identify factors associated with contraceptive use while controlling for other covariates.
RESULTS: The overall prevalence of current contraceptive use among women of reproductive age was only 17%, with rates ranging from 7% in Gambia to 29% in Uganda. After adjusting for potential confounders, we found that women were more likely to use a method of contraception if they were sexually active (adjusted prevalence ratio (aPR) 2.17 [95% confidence interval (CI) 2.11, 2.24]); had 5-7 living children (aPR 2.19 [95% CI 1.89, 2.55] compared to no children); had secondary or higher education (aPR 1.71 [95% CI 1.63, 1.78] compared to no education); and were wealthy (aPR 1.34 [95% CI 1.29, 1.40] compared to poor).
CONCLUSION: The use of contraceptives is low in sub-Saharan Africa, but varies substantially across countries. Use of contraception is associated with both personal and socioeconomic factors.