Unplanned pregnancies are more common than you might think. Nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned.
„If you are a woman and have not yet gone through menopause, it is possible for you to become pregnant,“ says Dr. Siobhan Dolan, Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Women’s Health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
You can only take actions to improve your chances of conception if you want to.
There is a saying: the only form of birth control that is 100% effective is abstinence. „Most forms of contraceptiondo work, but ‚accidents‘ can happen,“ says Dolan.
Condoms, birth control pills, intrauterine devices (IUDs), and other methods generally work in 80% to over 90% of cases. And with a permanent form of birth control, such as female sterilization or male vasectomy, the failure rate is less than 1%.
If you use the contraceptive method incorrectly, your chances of getting pregnant increase. Sometimes it is obvious that it did not work, such as when a condom breaks. In this case, you may want to take a second step, such as the over-the-counter „morning-after pill.“ It can prevent pregnancy up to 5 days after unprotected intercourse. But if you do not notice an error, such as a small hole in the condom or forgetting the daily pill, you could become pregnant.
The most common reason for an unplanned pregnancy is not the ineffectiveness of contraception, but the fact that a couple does not use contraception consistently. „Some women may not use contraception regularly, others not at all,“ says Dr. Maureen Phipps, Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Women and Infants Hospital in Rhode Island. „They may not like it, they may not have access to it, or they may even have a partner who does not want them to use it.“
Oftentimes, women or their partners are not sure if they want a child or not, says Phipps. „They are not planning [to have a baby], but they are also not actively trying to avoid a pregnancy. And in the end, they become pregnant.“
Some women may not realize that they could become pregnant. If you have struggled with infertility in the past, do not have regular periods, or are in perimenopause (the period before menopause that can lead to weak or irregular periods), it is still possible to become pregnant, even if you do not expect it.
If you are still getting your period – even if it is not regular – and do not want to become pregnant, „you should continue to use contraception,“ says Dolan.
Once you are in menopause (i.e., you have no more menstruation and it has been a whole year since you had your period), you can assume that you can have sex without contraception and not become pregnant. However, you still need to protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases.