PURPOSE: Despite efforts to expand contraceptive access for young people, few studies have considered where young women (age 15-24) in low- and middle-income countries obtain modern contraceptives and how the capacity and content of care of sources used compares with older users.
METHODS: We examined the first source of respondents' current modern contraceptive method using the most recent Demographic and Health Survey since 2000 for 33 sub-Saharan African countries. We classified providers according to sector (public/private) and capacity to provide a range of short- and long-term methods (limited/comprehensive). We also compared the content of care obtained from different providers.
RESULTS: Although the public and private sectors were both important sources of family planning (FP), young women (15-24) used more short-term methods obtained from limited-capacity, private providers, compared with older women. The use of long-term methods among young women was low, but among those users, more than 85% reported a public sector source. Older women (25+) were significantly more likely to utilize a comprehensive provider in either sector compared with younger women. Although FP users of all ages reported poor content of care across all providers, young women had even lower content of care.
CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that method and provider choice are strongly linked, and recent efforts to increase access to long-term methods among young women may be restricted by where they seek care. Interventions to increase adolescents' access to a range of FP methods and quality counseling should target providers frequently used by young people, including limited-capacity providers in the private sector.