Significant Decline in Unintended Pregnancies in the United States

By BruceBlaus. When using this image in external sources it can be cited as: staff. "Blausen gallery 2014". Wikiver

Unintended pregnancies in America have reached an all-time three-decade low and it’s mostly due to long-acting contraceptive methods, according to a new study.

Unplanned Pregnancy Rates

The rate of unintended pregnancies dropped to 18 percent in women of childbearing years between 2008 and 2011, which is “the lowest level we’ve seen in at least 30 years,” states Mia Zolna, a research associate at the Guttmacher Institute, a sexual and reproductive health research facility in NYC.

Out of women between the ages of 15 to 44 years of age, about 45 out of every 1,000 experienced an unplanned pregnancy in 2011. This rate was a decrease from 54 out of every 1,000 women of childbearing age three years earlier, said Zolna and co-author of the study Lawrence Filner.

The report was published in the March 3rd, 2016 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Also, unplanned pregnancies have happened less frequently among all groups, regardless of age, race, income or ethnicity, Zolna stated.
This trend will have a positive impact on women across all levels of society in America, said Dr. Adam Jacobs the director of family planning for Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

Jacobs said, “You empower women to choose when they start their family. By doing that, you let them stay in education, which leads to better income. They’re better able to plan their families and plan their lives.”

The percentage of unplanned pregnancies that ended in abortion remained consistent, 40 percent in 2008, compared with 42 percent in 2011, the team discovered.

The decrease in the rate of unplanned pregnancy is likely because of an uptake in the use of long-acting, reversible contraceptives, most commonly an IUD, Jacobs states.

While the cost of an IUD may be expensive up front, the device lasts for three to five years, Jacobs said. Women who are fitted with an IUD, a small plastic or metal device inserted into the uterus, don’t have to keep thinking about contraception, while other methods require a weekly, monthly or even daily commitment.

The percent of women in the United States who use an IUD and other long-last contraceptives tripled between 2007 and 2012, the study points out.
Leading medical societies, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, recently recommended an IUD as the first-line contraceptive choice for teens and women who have not had a baby, said Finer, director of the domestic research at the Guttmacher Institute.

Finer went on to say, “Those groups of women have not traditionally been considered for the IUD, but if you look at the evidence on safety and effectiveness, these methods can be used by a wide range of women.”

The team assessed the unplanned pregnancy rate through the use of federal survey data.


Dr. Zolna said, “For example poor women have unintended pregnancy rates that are about five times higher than that of higher-income women.”
Women who drop out of high school are about three times more likely to have an unplanned pregnancy when compared to college graduates. Researchers also found that black and Hispanic women were about two times more likely to have an unintended pregnancy than Caucasian women.

Due to the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies are now to cover all forms of contraception, without requiring a co-pay.

Finer stated, “Given that we researched a period that was before the Affordable Care Act, we’re interested to see what is going to happen going forward. We may see a continued downward trend.”


The information provided on is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her health professional. This information is solely for informational purposes and does not constitute the practice of medicine. We encourage all visitors to see a licensed physician or nutritionist if they have any concerns regarding health issues related to diet, personal image and any other topics discussed on this site. Neither the owners or employees of nor the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading this site. Always speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. Please see our Legal Statement for further information.