, Volume 49, Issue 4, pp 1433–1452 | Cite as

Hormonal Contraceptive Use and Discontinuation Because of Dissatisfaction: Differences by Race and Education

  • Krystale E. LittlejohnEmail author


The unintended pregnancy rate in the United States remains high, and there are large race and education differences in unintended pregnancy and fertility. These differences make it important to study race and education differences in contraceptive behavior. Using nationally representative data from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth, this study examines the effects of race and education on the likelihood that women have ever used particular types of hormonal contraception and have ever discontinued hormonal contraception because of dissatisfaction. The results show that blacks and Latinas were more likely to have used injectable contraceptives (“the shot”) and less likely to have used oral contraceptives (“the pill”) than were white women. Women with less education were more likely than college-educated women to have used the shot but there were no significant education differences in use of the pill. Among women who had ever used hormonal birth control, those with less than a college degree were more likely than college-educated women to discontinue the birth control because of dissatisfaction. However, net of education, this study found no significant racial/ethnic differences in discontinuation. The most commonly stated reason for discontinuation because of dissatisfaction was side effects.


Unintended pregnancy Birth control Discontinuation Reproduction Side effects 



I am grateful to Paula England, Michael Rosenfeld, C. Matthew Snipp, and anonymous reviewers for their very helpful comments. I also thank the Migration, Ethnicity, Race and Nation Workshop of Stanford University. An earlier version of this article was presented at Bringing the Body Back In: Towards a Corporeal Social Science, University of Arizona, April, 2009 and at the annual meetings of the American Sociological Association, San Francisco, August, 2009.


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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyStanford University, Sociology Department MC 2047StanfordUSA

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