Geographic Variation in Characteristics of Postpartum Women Using Female Sterilization

Academic Article


  • Background: Southern states have higher rates of female sterilization compared with other areas of the United States, and the reasons for this are not well understood. We examined whether low-income and racial/ethnic minority women, who were previous targets of coercive practices, disproportionately report using sterilization in the South. Methods: We used data from 12 states participating in the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System that collected information on women's contraceptive method use between 2006 and 2009. We categorized states according to geographic region: South, Midwest/West, and Northeast. Within each region, we computed the percentage of women using sterilization according to their demographic and obstetric characteristics and estimated multivariable-adjusted prevalence ratios to evaluate whether the same characteristics were associated with sterilization use. Findings: The percentage of postpartum women using sterilization ranged from 5.0% to 9.9% in the Northeast, 8.9% to 10.6% in the Midwest/West, and 11.6% to 22.4% in the South. Women in nearly all subgroups in Southern states were more likely to use sterilization than women in the Northeast. After multivariable adjustment, there were no differences in the prevalence of sterilization for Blacks compared with Whites in the Northeast (0.76; 95% CI, 0.55-1.06), Midwest/West (0.91; 95% CI, 0.80-1.04), and South (0.96; 95% CI, 0.85-1.07). Women with Medicaid-paid deliveries (vs. private insurance) had a higher prevalence of sterilization in all regions (p < .05). Conclusions: These findings do not indicate that low-income and racial/ethnic minority women in the South use sterilization at disproportionately higher rates compared with other regions, and suggest that other differences, such as social norms and family planning policies, may contribute to this geographic variation.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 2202196
  • Author List

  • White K; Potter JE; Zite N
  • Start Page

  • 628
  • End Page

  • 633
  • Volume

  • 25
  • Issue

  • 6