Moving towards the goals of FP2020 — classifying contraceptives

Mario Philip R. Festin, James Kiarie, Julie Solo, Jeffrey Spieler, Shawn Malarcher, Paul F.A. Van Look, Marleen Temmerman

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

62 Citations (Scopus)


With the renewed focus on family planning, a clear and transparent understanding is needed for the consistent classification of contraceptives, especially in the commonly used modern/traditional system. The World Health Organization Department of Reproductive Health and Research and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) therefore convened a technical consultation in January 2015 to address issues related to classifying contraceptives. The consultation defined modern contraceptive methods as having a sound basis in reproductive biology, a precise protocol for correct use and evidence of efficacy under various conditions based on appropriately designed studies. Methods in country programs like Fertility Awareness Based Methods [such as Standard Days Method (SDM) and TwoDay Method], Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM) and emergency contraception should be reported as modern. Herbs, charms and vaginal douching are not counted as contraceptive methods as they have no scientific basis in preventing pregnancy nor are in country programs. More research is needed on defining and measuring use of emergency contraceptive methods, to reflect their contribution to reducing unmet need. The ideal contraceptive classification system should be simple, easy to use, clear and consistent, with greater parsimony. Measurement challenges remain but should not be the driving force to determine what methods are counted or reported as modern or not. Family planning programs should consider multiple attributes of contraceptive methods (e.g., level of effectiveness, need for program support, duration of labeled use, hormonal or nonhormonal) to ensure they provide a variety of methods to meet the needs of women and men.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-294
Number of pages6
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes


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