Illinois action blog

Friday, May 30, 2008

Unplanned pregnancies: not just for the young

While they represent less than 1% of all live births, unplanned pregnancies among older women appear to be on the rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2000 and 2005, births among women ages 45 to 54 rose by 45%. A National Center for Health Statistics survey indicates that 40% of pregnancies in women age 40 or over are unintended.

Women in this age group may not realize that they still need to use birth control. Vanessa Cullins, Vice President of Medical Affairs for Planned Parenthood Federation of America says, "until they complete menopause, which means going 12 months without menstruating, women should consider themselves to still be fertile."

Dissatisfaction with a birth control method or inconsistent use of contraceptives may also contribute to this trend. A recent study by the Guttmacher Institute found that half of women who don't want to become pregnant are at risk for an unplanned pregnancy. Major life changes, such as losing or changing a job, moving, or ending or beginning a new relationship can often lead to a gap in contraceptive use. The Guttmacher survey also found that nearly 4 in 10 women are not very satisfied with their method of birth control. Dr. Jennifer Frost, a Senior Research Associate for the Guttmacher Institute, says that "finding the ‘right’ contraceptive method is not a one-time decision—rather it’s a series of choices as women’s life circumstances and contraceptive needs change.”

Technorati tags: unplanned pregnancy, women over forty, birth control, Planned Parenthood Illinois

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