By Camille Noe Pagán
Almost half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned. If you’re wondering whether it could happen to you, the answer is probably yes.
“If you’re a woman and haven’t gone through menopause yet, then it’s possible for you to get pregnant,” says Siobhan Dolan, MD, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology and women’s health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
Recommended Related to Birth Control
You don’t have to take a pill every day. Several birth control methods last weeks, months, or even years with little effort on your part. They are safe and effective for most healthy women of childbearing age. “The best method of contraception for any woman is the method that she’s going to use correctly and consistently,” says Elizabeth Micks, MD, MPH. She’s an acting assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Washington Medical Center. Do you know what's available?
You can take steps to improve your chances of conceiving only when you’d like to. But if you do become pregnant without meaning to, here’s what you need to know.
Why Unplanned Pregnancies Happen
As the saying goes, the only form of birth control that’s 100% effective is abstinence. “Most of the time, birth control does work, but accidents can happen,” Dolan says.
Condoms, birth control pills, intrauterine devices (IUDs), and other methods usually work 80% to more than 90% of the time. And permanent birth control, like female sterilization or male vasectomy, has a failure rate of less than 1%.
If you use birth control wrong, your chances of getting pregnant go up. Sometimes it’s obvious that it didn’t work, like when a condom breaks. In that case, it’s best to take a second step, like the over-the-counter “morning after” pill. It can prevent pregnancy up to 5 days after unprotected sex. But if you don’t notice an error like a small hole in a condom, or that you missed your daily pill, you could become pregnant.
Indecision can also lead to pregnancy. Many times, women or their partners aren’t sure if they want a child or not, says Maureen Phipps, MD, chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Women and Infants Hospital of Rhode Island. “They’re not planning [to have a baby], but they’re not actively trying to avoid pregnancy, either. And they end up getting pregnant.”
Even so, research shows that the single biggest reason for unplanned pregnancy isn’t ineffective birth control -- it’s from a couple not using any birth control. “Some women may not use birth control regularly, and others not at all,” Phipps says. “They may not like it, might not have access to it, or may even have a partner who doesn't want them to use it.”
source : Surprise Pregnancy: Could It Happen to You?