Costs and net health effects of contraceptive methods

Frank A. Sonnenberg, Ronald T. Burkman, C. Greg Hagerty, Leon Speroff, Theodore Speroff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Background Pregnancy and contraceptive methods both have important health effects that include risks and benefits. The net impact of contraception on women's health has not been reported previously. Study design This is a cost-utility analysis using a Markov model evaluated by Monte Carlo simulation using the societal perspective for costs. The analysis compared 13 methods of contraception to nonuse of contraception with respect to healthcare costs and quality-adjusted life years (QALYs). Discounting was applied for future costs and health effects. The base-case analysis applies to women of average health and fertility, ranging from 15 to 50 years of age, who are sexually active in a mutually monogamous relationship; smoking rates observed in women of reproductive age were used. Sensitivity analysis extended the analysis to nonmonogamous status and smoking status. Results Compared with use of no contraception, contraceptive methods of all types result in substantial cost savings over 2 years, ranging from US$5907 per woman for tubal sterilization to US$9936 for vasectomy and health gains ranging from 0.088 QALYs for diaphragm to 0.147 QALYs for depot medroxyprogesterone acetate. Compared with nonuse, even with a time horizon as short as 1 year, use of any method other than sterilization results in financial savings and health gains. Most of the financial savings and health gains were due to contraceptive effects. In a population of patients, even modest increases in the use of the most effective methods result in financial savings and health gains. Conclusions Every method of contraception dominates nonuse in most clinical settings. Increasing the use of more effective methods even modestly at the expense of less effective methods will improve health and reduce costs. Methods that require action by the user less frequently than daily are both less costly and more effective than methods requiring action on a daily basis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)447-459
Number of pages13
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


  • Contraception/economics
  • Cost-benefit analysis
  • Costs and cost analysis
  • Healthcare costs
  • Models, economic
  • Quality-adjusted life years


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