An unintended pregnancy is a pregnancy that is reported to have been either unwanted (that is, the pregnancy occurred when no children, or no more children, were desired) or mistimed (that is, the pregnancy occurred earlier than desired). Unintended pregnancy is a core concept that is used to better understand the fertility of populations and the unmet need for contraception (birth control) and family planning. Unintended pregnancy mainly results from not using contraception, or inconsistent or incorrect use of effective contraceptive methods.
About half of all unintended pregnancies end in abortion. Accordingly, the occurrence of abortion can be seen as one of the primary consequences of unintended pregnancy.
As with any surgical procedure, abortion carries an inherent risk of medical complications, including death. Complications known to be directly related to the procedure include hemorrhage, uterine perforation, cervical injury, and infection, which is often due to incomplete abortion. Later complications that have been investigated include possible negative effects on subsequent pregnancy outcomes, particularly low birth weight, mid trimester spontaneous abortion, and premature delivery. The vast majority of abortions performed in this country are first-trimester vacuum aspiration procedures. Pregnancy outcomes among women who have had one vacuum aspiration abortion are no different than those among women who have not had an abortion. Results are mixed, however, as regards the influence on subsequent pregnancy outcomes of having had more than one abortion or having second-trimester abortions by vacuum extraction. At present, investigators are studying a possible relationship between abortion and an increased risk of developing premenopausal breast cancer
Although the medical risks of abortion appear to be very small, the procedure may pose troubling moral and ethical problems to some women and providers as well. In addition, women (and those close to them) may find that confronting an unintended pregnancy and weighing the option of abortion are emotionally difficult experiences, and the procedure itself may involve appreciable pain and expense.
Having an abortion does not increase a woman’s risk of suffering from mental health problems, according to the latest scientific review.
Researchers found unwanted pregnancy doubles the risk of having mental health issues, however this rate then stays the same whether a woman chooses to have an abortion or continue with the pregnancy.
The experts found that women who had a history of mental health problems before having an abortion were more likely to suffer problems after the procedure.
Factors that may potentially increase the risk of mental health issues after an abortion included women being pressurised by a partner to have an abortion, stressful events, or the woman herself having a negative attitude towards abortions.
How to prevent unintended pregnancy
Unintended pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of problems for the mom and baby. If a pregnancy is not planned before conception, a woman may not be in optimal health for childbearing. For example, women with an unintended pregnancy could delay prenatal care that may affect the health of the baby. Therefore, it is important for all women of reproductive age to adopt healthy behaviors such as:
- Taking folic acid.
- Maintaining a healthy diet and weight.
- Being physically active regularly.
- Quitting tobacco use.
- Abstaining from alcohol and drugs.
- Talking to your health care provider about screening and proper management of chronic diseases.
- Visiting your health care provider at the recommended scheduled time periodsfor your age and discuss if or when you are considering becoming pregnant.
- Using effective contraception correctly and consistently if you are sexually active but wish to delay or avoid pregnancy.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.