Pregnancy which is undesired by one or both partners is known as unintended pregnancy. Apart from just being undesired, it can be unplanned or mistimed also.
Unintended pregnancies result from either failure in using the contraceptive method, or in cases where the contraceptives are used, failure of the contraceptive itself. In addition to the popular birth control methods that are available commonly like condoms, birth control pills, many new methods like hormonal patch, hormonal rings, spermicides etc are also increasingly becoming popular. Birth control methods have been used for ages to prevent unintended pregnancies. But their use by men and especially women depends on a variety of factors like, ease of availability, effectiveness of the contraception, medical factors etc.
Apart from the reasons mentioned above, an undesired pregnancy may also result from irregular use of contraception. Also, in some cases where sexual relations are forced on a woman like in the case of domestic abuse and rape, an unintended pregnancy may happen.
Birth control sabotage, where the methods for birth control are not used deliberately under the pressure of partner, often is a form of domestic violence and a major contributor in unintended pregnancies worldwide.
In many parts of the world, sex education is still considered a taboo. Incomplete knowledge or complete ignorance in some cases lead to women conceiving without wishing to do so. Also, such a pregnancy might also happen when both the partners cannot decide whether or not to have a child. Sometimes, though it is a rare occurrence, a woman might also conceive even she is believed to be infertile like after menopause.
Pregnancy in the case where the woman is not ready for it might result in great emotional distress. In some cases, with progression of the pregnancy some women might accept the pregnancy. Unintended pregnancies result in delayed commencement of the prenatal care for the mother and the baby. Due to lack of proper prenatal treatment, the health of the newborn and the mother in the post delivery phase might be compromised.
Unintended pregnancies also see the parents unprepared for the upcoming challenges of the parenthood. In case a woman has sexually transmitted disease (STD) and conceives without getting adequate treatment, it can prove to be harmful for both the baby and the mother. The chances of preterm labor and delivery or the infant getting infected are high in such cases.
Many cases require certain genetic tests to be conducted on the female to decide whether or not she should be conceiving a child. But an unintended pregnancy leads to complete exclusion of any such tests. This can cause severe complications and even miscarriage.
Women who are not emotionally ready for pregnancy may suffer from depression both during the pregnancy and even in the post-partum phase. However, such feelings can change during the course of pregnancy. Due to extreme hormonal imbalance coupled with emotional distress, in many cases, mothers do not breastfeed the newborn. This results in poor health and mental development of the child.
Children born out of undesired pregnancies are observed to have lower weight at birth, are more likely to encounter physical and mental challenges during childhood and are more likely to face a deprived childhood.
Pregnancies which are unplanned and unintended often hit a family economically, simply because both the partners might not be ready financially to have a child.
A large part of unwanted pregnancies result in abortions, which is termination of the pregnancy with consent of the woman. Many myths are still associated with abortion. But studies have proven that if the procedure is carried out strictly according to the procedures abortion can be associated with fewer risks in comparison to child birth.
Prevention of unintended pregnancy
To avoid emotional and physical distress, the best method is to ensure that pregnancies do not happen by mistake. Adequate sexual education especially amongst teenagers is of paramount importance. Also, it is important that the contraceptives are available easily so that people have access to them.
All modern forms of contraception have very low failure rate if used properly. Therefore, use of modern methods of contraception should be encouraged by spreading awareness as well as increasing accessibility.
Unwanted pregnancies can often lead to negative effects on a woman’s health for a long time. Physical complications might also happen which can lead to infertility in some cases.
An unintended pregnancy has the most adverse effect on a woman’s health as she does not feel ready to bear a child. The only way to avoid such a situation is to adopt effective methods of contraception and using them regularly. Inconsistent use of birth control is one of the primary causes of unwanted pregnancies. Also, complete and thorough knowledge about sex and reproduction is imperative. Both the partners should consciously use birth control methods and make a coherent decision about family planning.