Woman looking at a pregnancy test, unhappy and confused

Unintended pregnancy: top five facts

85 million pregnancies each year are unintended worldwide! That’s an estimated 40 per cent of all pregnancies. Why does it happen? How can you prevent it?

  1. Unintended pregnancies are very common 

    According to a recent study, one in every four pregnancies in India is unintended. And with younger women and girls, the number gets even higher. Some of the expectant mothers end up having abortions, and nearly all abortions are a result of unintended pregnancy.

    In the end, 21 per cent of all babies born were unplanned. This is often due to the fact that mothers aren’t using birth control methods correctly or regularly.

  2. How does it happen?

    There are many reasons for unintended pregnancies. Birth control can fail. You might forget the birth control pill, or a condom might break. Or you thought you weren’t ovulating. Or you may have just had a child and thought breastfeeding would protect you.

    Some couples also don’t use birth control methods at all, or unreliable methods, like withdrawal. Sometimes, reliable birth control methods aren’t readily available. And, sometimes, in the case of abuse, rape, or coercion, a woman may not be able to negotiate the use of contraception.

  3. Unplanned pregnancies can be a risk for the mother and child

    When a woman is planning to get pregnant, she can make sure that she is healthy. This includes taking folic acid, eating healthily, and not smoking or drinking. If a woman isn’t trying to have a child, it may take several weeks to find out that she is pregnant.

    The first few weeks are extremely important for the development though. For example, not taking folic acid at the beginning of a pregnancy can lead to a condition called spina bifida. Spina bifida can leave a child disabled for the rest of its life.

  4. What are the options?

    When you find out that you are pregnant, you may feel overwhelmed and not know what to do. The best thing to start with is to find someone you trust, who you can talk to. This doesn’t have to be your partner (even though your partner should ideally be involved, of course!), but it can be an aunt, a friend, or a sibling.

    Having an outsider’s perspective can help you make this decision that will affect the rest of your life.

    You have a few options – keeping the child, and either bringing it up yourself or with the help of your family and others. Giving the child away for adoption is another possibility. But for some women, keeping the child is simply not an option, and they might opt to have an abortion.

  5. How can unintended pregnancies be prevented? 

    The best way to prevent unintended pregnancies is to correctly and consistently use reliable birth control methods. If you haven’t had sex with your partner yet, you should be having a conversation about contraception before you start having sex. It’s both your responsibility!

    If you had unprotected sex or your birth control method failed, you can use emergency contraception or e-pills for up to 5 days after it happened. The earlier, the better though!

    But it goes further than this. Everybody needs to have access to information on preventing pregnancies, before having sex. Ideally, this should be happening early in school and/or at home, but sadly, this often doesn’t happen.

What do you know about unplanned pregnancies? Share your thoughts in the comments or join the discussion on Love Matters Naija and Love Matters Kenya.

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Recent Comments (7)

  1. did u say for up to 5 days
    did u say for up to 5 days?they fail even before 48hrs are over

  2. Am suffering from varicose…
    Am suffering from varicose veins which method can I use

  3. Hi Loice, Do visit a health…
    Hi Loice, Do visit a health centre for a closer look. A doctor or health provider will help prescribe a way to prevent them based on the cause.

  4. I had sex with someone and…
    I had sex with someone and then the condom broke we both didn’t notice until after. I am not sure what to more afraid of pregnacy or get some STI. So stressed.

    1. Hey, both of those are…

      Hey, both of those are possible since the condom especially if you are not sure about your partner. Usually the condom is effective when used correctly. When it breaks it’s probably how it has been used.If it has not been more than 72 hours from when this happened, you can take the Emergency Contraception pill to try and prevent pregnancy. If it has been longer than this you will have to wait for atleast 14 days and then take a pregnancy test to see if you got pregnant. You can then decide how to proceed. If you suspect the risk of getting infected with HIV you may also consider taking an HIV test to get to know your HIV test. You can get all these services at a health centre. Check out the following articles;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/birth-control/types-of-birth-control/emergency-contraception


  5. Why is it that I took the P2…
    Why is it that I took the P2 but I still got pregnant? I am so confused I don’t know what to do.

    1. Hi there, the Emergency…

      Hi there, the Emergency Contraception pill or P2 can be taken within the first 72 hours after having unprotected sex. However the Pill is effective when taken within the first 24 hours at 95 per cent effective. This significantly reduces as time passes. Take sometime and think about what options you have which may include keep the pregnancy, deliver the baby and then give the baby up for adoption. It help to talk to someone you trust to help in making an informed decision. We wish you wee, check out this article;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/pregnancy/unsure-about-being-pregnant/unwanted-pregnancy-top-five-facts 

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