Volume 28 - Article 41 | Pages 1199–1212

Patterns of contraceptive use among Mexican-origin women

By Kari White, Joseph E. Potter

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Date received:11 Nov 2012
Date published:11 Jun 2013
Word count:2443
Keywords:contraceptive use, family planning services, fertility, fertility intentions, immigrants, Mexico, United States of America


Background: Mexican women in the United States (US) have higher rates of fertility compared to other ethnic groups and women in Mexico. Whether variation in women’s access to family planning services or patterns of contraceptive use contributes to this higher fertility has received little attention.

Objective: We explore Mexican women’s contraceptive use, taking into account women’s place in the reproductive life course.

Methods: Using nationally representative samples from the US (National Survey of Family Growth) and Mexico (Encuesta National de la Dinámica Demográfica), we compared the parity-specific frequency of contraceptive use and fertility intentions for non-migrant women, foreign-born Mexicans in the US, US-born Mexicans, and whites.

Results: Mexican women in the US were less likely to use IUDs and more likely to use hormonal contraception than women in Mexico. Female sterilization was the most common method among higher parity women in both the US and Mexico, however, foreign-born Mexicans were less likely to be sterilized, and the least likely to use any permanent contraceptive method. Although foreign-born Mexicans were slightly less likely to report that they did not want more children, differences in method use remained after controlling for women’s fertility intentions.

Conclusions: At all parities, foreign-born Mexicans used less effective methods. These findings suggest that varying access to family planning services may contribute to variation in women’s contraceptive use.

Comments: Future studies are needed to clarify the extent to which disparities in fertility result from differences in contraceptive access.

Author's Affiliation

Kari White - University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), United States of America [Email]
Joseph E. Potter - University of Texas at Austin, United States of America [Email]

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