Half of the Filipino Women Now Practicing Family Planning

Reference Number: 


Release Date: 

Thursday, November 4, 2004

Contraceptive use among married women in the Philippines has almost tripled over the last 30 years, from 17 percent in 1973 to 49 percent in 2003 (Table 1). Furthermore, two Filipino women in five who are not currently using a contraceptive method declare having the intention to use one in the future (Table 2), according to results just released by the 2003 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS). The National Statistics Office (NSO) conducted the NDHS, a nationally representative survey of 13,000 households, 14,000 women age 15-49 and 5,000 men age 15-54.

NDHS findings also indicate that more work will be needed in the future to ensure that similar trends are observed, as the rate of increase of contraceptive use has dramatically slowed down over the past 5 years. For instance, use of a contraceptive method has only increased by two percentage points, from 47 percent to 49 percent, between the 1998 NDHS and the 2003 NDHS (Table 1). This explains in good part why fertility levels have also recently leveled off.

The increase in contraceptive use in the last five years was essentially due to the increase in use of modern methods, from 28 percent to 33 percent as the use of traditional methods actually declined from 18 percent to 16 percent. Most of the gain in modern contraceptive use was due to an increase in the use of the pill, from 10 percent to 13 percent. Meanwhile, the use of female sterilization, IUD and injectable remained at their 1998 levels, at 10 percent, 4 percent and 3 percent, respectively (Table 3).

Fertility in the Philippines has declined steadily over the past three decades, especially in the first twenty years during which a decline of one birth every decade was observed (from 6 births per woman in 1970 to 4.1 births in 1991). The decline during the last 10 years has been rather slow. For instance, since 1991, fertility has only been reduced by 0.6 births, from 4.1 births per woman to 3.5 births per woman in 2001 (Table 4).

The 2003 NDHS also shows that Filipino women still bear more children than they desire. If they could prevent births that they declare as "unwanted", Filipino women would have, on average, 2.5 births, or exactly one birth less than the number they currently have (3.5 births). For the last decade, the gap between wanted and actual fertility rates has remained stable at one birth (Table 5). Overall, fertility in the country remains considerably high compared with the levels observed in other Southeast Asian countries such as Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Women in these countries have on average less than 2.5 children per woman.

The 2003 NDHS is the eighth in a series of demographic surveys conducted every 5 years since 1968. It covers a national sample of 13,945 women 15 to 49 years old and 5,009 men 15 to 54 years old. The survey is designed to provide up-to-date information on population, family planning and health. This information is intended to assist policy makers and program managers in evaluating and designing programs and strategies for improving health and family planning services in the country. The survey was implemented by the National Statistics Office from June 16 to September 3, 2003. Financial support for the local costs of the survey was provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). ORC Macro provided technical assistance to the project through the MEASURE DHS+ project.


                                                                                                       (Sgd.) CARMELITA N. ERICTA

Table 1.  Percentage of currently married women age 15-49 using modern and traditional family planning methods, Philippines 1968-2003

Survey  Modern
      1973 National Demographic Survey1 10.7 6.7 17.4
      1978 Republic of the Philippines Fertility Survey1 17.2 21.3 38.5
      1983 National Demographic Survey1 18.9 13.1 32.0
      1988 National Demographic Survey 21.6 14.5 36.1
      1993 National Demographic Survey 24.9 15.1 40.0
      1998 National Demographic and Health Survey 28.2 18.3 46.5
      2003 National Demographic and Health Survey 33.4 15.5 48.9

                  1   Calculated for currently married women 15-44 years

Table 2.  Percent distribution of currently married women who are not using a contraceptive               method by intention to use in the future, Philippines 2003

 Intention   Percent 
      Intends to use 39.8
      Unsure 4.9
      Does not intend to use 55.0


Table 3.  Percent of currently married women by modern contraceptive method used,
Philippines 1998 & 2003

Modern Method   1998     2003  
Female Sterilization 10.3 10.5
Male Sterilization 0.1 0.1
Pill 9.9 13.2
IUD 3.7 4.1
Injectable 2.4 3.1
Male Condom 1.6 1.9
Mucus/Billings/Ovulation 0.2 0.1
Lactational Amenorrhea Method 0.0 0.3


Table 4.  Total fertility rates from various surveys, Philippines 1973 - 2003

Survey  Reference Year   Total Fertility
Rate(births per woman) 
1973 National Demographic Survey 1970 6.0
1978 Republic of the Philippines Fertility Survey 1975 5.2
1983 National Demographic Survey 1980 5.1
1993 National Demographic Survey 1991 4.1
1998 National Demographic and Health Survey 1996 3.7
2003 National Demographic and Health Survey 2001 3.5

             Note: Rates for 1970 to 1980 are five-year averages and rates from 1984 to 2001 are three-year averages.

Table 5.  Total wanted fertility rate and total fertility rate for the three years preceding the survey, Philippines 1993-2003

Survey Year  Total Wanted 
 Fertility Rate 
 Total Fertility Rate 
Births per Woman
2.9 4.1
2.7 3.7
2.5 3.5