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Up to 50 percent of all pregnancies are unplanned. Of those, some are welcomed with open arms, others reluctantly accepted, and some just not wanted at all.

Unwanted pregnancy may not be a nice, sunny topic to discuss, but it's important and women dealing with an unwanted pregnancy deserve just as much support as those who are happily pregnant after hoping for a baby for a while. 

Preventing an unwanted pregnancy

Contraceptives play an important role in preventing unwanted pregnancies. Women who are in a stable, monogamous relationship may want to look into hormonal birth control options such as the pill, an intrauterine device, or NuvaRing. These birth control options prevent pregnancy but do not protect from sexually transmitted diseases. New couples who would like to have intercourse without condoms (while still avoiding pregnancy) should preferably get tested for STDs including HIV before they decide to ditch the condoms.

Women who are not in (absolutely certainly) monogamous relationships are best protected if they use condoms. Condoms protect against sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy, but using another birth control method in addition to condoms give all women the best odds of preventing an unwanted pregnancy. Condoms can and do slip or break, after all. Being careful and using them correctly helps, but accidents do happen.

The morning-after pill is can be described as the final line of protection against unwanted pregnancy. Women who had unprotected sex or condom accidents can obtain this pill within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse. The morning-after pill works by delaying ovulation, so there will be no egg to meet those sperm cells. Many women don't know that the copper IUD can also be used as a form of emergency contraception. It is 99.9 percent effective at preventing pregnancy, even on the fifth day after sexual intercourse.

Already facing an unwanted pregnancy?

Are you already pregnant and quite sure that you don't want to be? One thing is for sure you are not the only woman in this situation, though you may well feel like it at the moment. What should you do now? The first thing to do is explore your feelings very honestly. Don't involve others, who might pressure you into a choice you don't really want to make, until you have a very good idea about what you want to do next. Some questions you might consider to find out why and if your pregnancy is really unwanted include:

  • Why don't I want to be pregnant at the moment? Is it because the timing is completely wrong, I don't want to have a child with this particular person, I have financial concerns, or I'm afraid how others would react to this pregnancy? Or for other reasons?
  • Are the reasons you wish you weren't pregnant solvable? Would your pregnancy still be unwanted if you were in a better financial situation for instance? If you would welcome a pregnancy in other circumstances, are your circumstances permanent or only temporary?
  • Are your feelings on your pregnancy being influenced by others, like the man with whom you conceived the pregnancy? Do you feel pressurized at all?
  • If you are very sure you don't want to raise a child, how do you feel about adoption and abortion?

Abortion

Abortion has become a horrendously politicized topic, but that doesn't mean anything to you if you are currently pregnant and you really don't want to be. Abortions are very common. Three out of every 10 US women will have had an abortion by the time they are 45 years old. If you truly feel abortion is the best choice for you, this procedure is available to you if you live in the US, and many other countries throughout the world.

Two types of abortion are available in the United States: the abortion pill (medical abortion), and in-clinic abortion (surgical abortion). Medical abortion is usually available up to the ninth week of pregnancy. The advantage of this method is that you can complete the process in the comfort of your own home, without the presence of doctors or a clinical environment. However, medical abortion takes a longer time to complete. Women who choose this method will have to wait anywhere from six hours to a whole week for their uterus to be empty. If the procedure fails for some reason, these women will still require a surgical procedure. (It is not safe to continue pregnancy after a failed medical abortion.)

Vacuum aspiration is the most common surgical abortion method. It is performed up to 16 weeks of pregnancy, and takes up to 15 minutes. While local anesthesia is a common choice, the procedure can also be done under general anesthesia if you prefer. This type of abortion can be carried out in abortion clinics or hospitals. If you live in the US, Planned Parenthood is a good place to start looking for information about all forms of abortion. Modern abortions are very safe procedures that do not affect your future health or fertility. You will usually, however, be asked to talk to a counselor before undergoing the procedure. This is done to make sure that you really believe abortion is the best choice for you, and also to check if anyone is pressuring you into terminating a pregnancy you would prefer to keep.

Adoption

Adoption is another option for women who are willing to carry a pregnancy to term but who don't feel they are in a position to raise a child. If this is you, you'll have your whole pregnancy to consider your options. You can look at licensed adoption agencies and choose a family for your child, but some people also arrange adoptions privately, with an attorney. The latter step is suitable for women or girls who have someone they already know in mind a relative, for instance.