Unmet need for family planning among young people

The number/percent of sexually active young people (ages 10-24) who do not want any more children or who want to delay their next birth by two or more years, but who are not using a contraceptive method


Responses to survey questions on:

  • Desire for (additional) children, and if so, the desired time until pregnancy/birth;
  • Current contraceptive use status;
  • Current sexual activity, fecundity, pregnancy, and amenorrhea status for women not currently using a contraceptive method;
  • Wanted status of last pregnancy for currently pregnant or amenorrheic women; and
  • Use of a contraceptive method at the time of the current/last pregnancy.

Evaluators may want to disaggregate by the following age ranges: 10-14, 15-19, and 20-24.


Surveys of adolescents in the program‘s intended popu­lation


Globally, many sexually active young people who want to avoid pregnancy are not using modern FP methods for various reasons, including a lack of access to services or disapproval by health providers. A significant portion of unmet need is indicated by the high levels of abortion among young women, as reported in surveys and inferred from hospitalizations after unsafe abortions, as well as by estimates of out-of-wedlock pregnancies and young women’s reports to interviewers that their first or second births took place earlier than they desired (UNFPA, 2003).

Among young people, most of this unmet need is for spacing and prevention. In most societies, childbearing after marriage is expected and nearly universal, and most newly married young people want to begin childbearing soon after marriage.

In Latin America and the Caribbean an average of 35 per cent of sexually active teens over age 15 use FP, in sub-Saharan Africa fewer than one fifth do so.

Because never-married sexually active adolescents have a high unmet need for FP, this indicator is useful for determining the extent of unmet need in a given population in order to inform FP policies and program implementation gaps.


This indicator provides a measure of unmet need for FP comparable to the generic indica­tor but adjusted for the situation of many adolescents. The adjustments in­clude sexually active female adolescents who are not currently married or in union. Evaluators may also sur­vey for "sexually active“ adolescents in terms of all women reporting ever having had sexual intercourse. However, this latter approach will include women who have sex only sporadically; the fact that they are not currently using a contraceptive method may overstate the level of unmet need for FP. Alterna­tively, evaluators may use reported contraceptive use at last sexual intercourse in lieu of current contraceptive use.


access, family planning, adolescent, commodity

Meeting Reproductive Health Service Needs: Unmet Need for Family Planning.  UNFPA, State of World Population 2003.  Available at: http://www.unfpa.org/swp/2003/english/ch5/page2.htm

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