For most sexually active men and women, preventing unplanned pregnancy is a priority, and the rate of unplanned pregnancy is a key indicator of a population’s reproductive health. Unfortunately, both the rate of unplanned pregnancy and the percentage of pregnancies that are unplanned are increasing, according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health.
From 2001 to 2008, the rate of unintended pregnancy experienced by American women increased 10 percent (to 54 per 1000 women aged 15-44. Of 6.6 million pregnancies in 2008, 51% were unintended – an increase from 2001 (49%). Additionally, the rate of intended pregnancy rate fell slightly.
A large disparity was found according to income level. The pregnancy rate for poor women was more than 3 times that of women in the highest income category, and the unintended pregnancy rate was more than 5 times that of affluent women.
Unintended pregnancy is a stubborn problem with multifaceted causes. Improving these rates will require addressing fundamental socioeconomic inequities; increasing contraceptive use; increasing education about abstinence, sexuality, and contraception; and increasing uptake of highly effective methods of contraception.