A host of factors such as preference for permanent methods of contraception and women-centric pills, which are viewed as a safer method for birth control, have resulted in a drop in government-issued condom use in India, according to the nation’s health ministry data.

Use of condoms distributed free of charge by the Indian government has dropped by 38 percent in five years -- from 26 million in 2006-07 to 16 million in 2010-11, The Times of India, or TOI, a national daily, reported citing health ministry figures. However, there has been a rise in the sale of condoms produced by private companies, according to the news report.

Reportedly, 21 of India’s 28 states, including the capital city of New Delhi, and northern states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, have registered a decline in the use of government-issued condoms, with the sharpest drop noted in the eastern Indian state of Chhattisgarh -- from 0.69 million condoms used in 2006-07 to 0.14 million in 2010-11.

According to Sujatha Natarajan of United Nations Family Planning Association, this decline might be due to a preference for permanent methods of contraception and a drop in social marketing and distribution of condoms by the Indian government.

"In 2006-07, the investments in media campaigns for use of condoms were very high because it was related to combating HIV-AIDS. The investments have subsequently come down," she told TOI.

Hindustan Times reported that the same five-year period saw an increasing number of women choosing easier contraceptive options such as pills and intrauterine devices. In rural India, official data showed that around 84 million women opted for pills in 2011 as compared to around 70 million in 2006.

“Most women have realised that pills are a safer option for contraception than condoms,” Suneeta Mittal, head of the gynecology department at Fortis Memorial Research Institute near New Delhi, told HT. “Pills help in the regulation of their menstrual cycle and also control infections,” she added.