Unwanted Pregnancy: Causes, Side Effects & Abortion Methods

How to Deal With an Unwanted Pregnancy

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Rima Sonpal (Gynecologist/Obstetrician)
View more Gynecologist/Obstetrician Our Panel of Experts

A couple who has been desperately trying to conceive and become parents, it’s a moment of joy, when they find out that they are expecting a baby. However, when the pregnancy is unplanned (and unwanted), it may come as a shock and the emotions associated with it tend to be quite different. Dealing with an unplanned pregnancy needs a lot of emotional strength and support from the partner and the immediate family. Read on to know what are the causes of an unwanted pregnancy how you can (or help someone) deal with an unwanted pregnancy!

Causes of an Unwanted Pregnancy

In an unplanned pregnancy, the couple is obviously not prepared for a baby, and such news can come as a shock to many people. An unwanted pregnancy can be the result of a “spur-of-the-moment” act, wrong use of a contraceptive, and more. Let us explore a few of these causes in brief:

  • Wrong Use of Contraceptives: If you and your partner use contraceptives but do not follow the instructions mentioned for a particular contraceptive, it can prove to be a costly mistake. If birth control pills are your preferred choice of contraception, and you miss the pill one day, it could result in an unwanted pregnancy. Taking the pills every day at the same time is important as it will lower the chances of pregnancy to the minimum. Similarly, while using a cervical cap or a diaphragm, if the cervix is not covered completely before intercourse, it could be a mistake you will regret. Condoms are though quite reliable as a contraceptive method but they too need to be used properly.
  • Wrong Calculation of Safe Days: An unplanned pregnancy can happen if the calculation of the fertile period is wrong. You will have to be sure about the safe period of the month to rely completely on this method.
  • Irregular Use of Contraceptives: Contraceptive methods like diaphragms, condoms, and cervical caps should be used every time during sex. If a woman forgets to take the birth control pills or the morning-after pill once, it can result in pregnancy.
  • Non-Availability of Emergency Contraceptive Pills: Emergency contraceptive pills are a popular method of contraception for women. However, it often happens that the pills may not be available off-the-counter and at times a prescription may be necessary. This could lead to a delay in consuming it and could result in pregnancy.
  • Lack of Knowledge: Women are often unaware of their own bodies and do not know which sexual act will lead to pregnancy. If there is inadequate knowledge of sex and its consequences, this could be a major cause of pregnancies, especially in teens.
  • Failure or Contraceptive: One of the primary causes of an unwanted pregnancy is a contraceptive failure. Statistics have shown that around 53% of unwanted pregnancies happen with women who use contraceptives. This is a common cause across all ages, be it a teenage girl or an older woman.

What About the Physical and Emotional Effects of an Unplanned Pregnancy?

A woman may have to deal with physical and emotional changes when the pregnancy is an unplanned one. There can be long term adverse effects on a woman’s health. Most couples are unprepared for such an emergency and they can face major upheavals in their orderly lives. Since most women are not mentally ready for such a surprise, it could lead to sleepless nights, arguments and emotional upsets. There can be feelings of regret and there can be chances of serious complications like depression too. In case of negative feelings about the pregnancy, it can lead to a feeling of detachment with the baby and bonding can suffer in a major way.

Termination of an Unintended Pregnancy

If you and your partner decide not to go ahead with the pregnancy, ensure this decision is a mutual one and not forced on either of you. Any form of doubt or indecision can blow this delicate subject out of proportion and have an impact on your relationship. If you decide to terminate it, you will want to know how to get rid of an unwanted pregnancy. However, before that, you will have to be prepared for the physical and emotional changes you could undergo. Apart from the physical uneasiness and anxiety, feelings of guilt and sadness are common and many women are unable to cope with it. Share your deepest fears with the partner or a friend and if required take the help of a counsellor.

Induced Abortion

Abortions that are caused by medical or external interventions are known as induced abortions. If yours is an unplanned pregnancy, you will have to go through it. The foetus will be expelled from the uterine cavity through a saline or digoxin or potassium chloride injection. The injection will be inserted into the amniotic sac that covers the foetus. Prostaglandins like misoprostol will be used to soften the cervix and induce uterine contractions. The medicine will be inserted vaginally. In order to induce contractions, Pitocin or oxytocin is injected intravenously. However, these methods of abortion are generally opted for in the second trimester of pregnancy.


Risks Associated With Induced Abortion

You should be aware of the potential risks associated with induced abortion when various medicines are injected in the amniotic sac:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • The uterus could be damaged due to the injection method
  • Infection to your internal organs
  • Extreme pain and subsequent soreness
  • Saline can enter the mother’s bloodstream which can be dangerous

How to Terminate an Unwanted Pregnancy

The type of procedure used for aborting a child from an unwanted pregnancy will depend on how far a woman is into her pregnancy. There are two methods of abortion, namely, medical abortion and surgical abortion. Early medical abortion is carried out if a woman is nine weeks pregnant or less. But if a woman has crossed her seven-week pregnancy mark, a separate procedure will be followed for abortion.

Surgical abortion includes vacuum aspiration (for 8-12 weeks of pregnancy) and surgical dilation. After 15 weeks, it is a mid-trimester abortion. Abortion after 20 weeks is not common and it is also not allowed in India. 

Carrying With an Unintentional Pregnancy

If you have decided to go ahead with an unintentional pregnancy, there are many things to think about carefully. Giving birth to a baby and bringing a new life in the world can be a daunting feeling for most women. You will be nervous about the huge responsibility that will come upon you. Getting overly stressed and reacting to the situation in a negative manner will not help. It could also have an adverse effect on you and the baby. You will have a lot of time to think about the future and plan parenthood as the pregnancy progresses. Meet a doctor and understand all that there is to your pregnancy. Discuss your fears and anxiety with your partner who will play a critical role during this period. Plan your finances and check the impact this pregnancy will have on your immediate and future financial goals.

Antenatal Check-ups

A primary drawback of an unintentional pregnancy is that you will miss out on preconception health. During this period, the health of the mom-to-be prior to conception is checked and monitored. Therefore, you will have to take additional care of yourself, as lack of care can have a direct impact on the pregnancy. Antenatal check-ups include monitoring of areas like receiving balanced nutrition, taking multi-vitamins, maintaining a regular exercise schedule, and avoiding the intake of tobacco and alcohol, drugs. One should also be careful of contracting sexually-transmitted diseases and should keep health conditions like diabetes, hypertension and obesity at bay.

How to Avoid Unwanted Pregnancy

We all hate unpleasant surprises, especially those that have the potential of disrupting our lives. Unwanted pregnancies find a mention pretty high on this list of nasty surprises. If you want to avoid unwanted pregnancies, take the following precautions:

  • Avoid penetrative sex if you are still in your teens. Wait till the time you are capable of handling the responsibility with maturity.
  • If you have plans to get sexually active, be prepared with all available options of contraception. Ask your partner to use a condom every time you have sex or use birth control pills.
  • Use an emergency contraceptive if you are unsure of the birth-control methods used.
  • The morning-after pills are to be used in case of emergencies only, so do not make a habit or your health may be affected.

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Coping With an Unplanned Pregnancy

An unplanned pregnancy can throw your life in complete disarray. But this doesn’t mean that it is the end of the road for you. You can cope with the situation if you give yourself time to recover from the initial shock. Here are a few pointers that can help if you find yourself in a similar situation:

  • Don’t panic: Remember an unwanted pregnancy is not a life-threatening moment. Of course, it is an emergency situation but it can be worsened if you panic at the first instance.
  • Think rationally: The first emotion to hit a couple when they are faced with an unplanned pregnancy is of guilt and shame. You may feel cheated by your partner if he does not take responsibility. The key is to think rationally and let go of the guilt.
  • Learn from it: Once you have experienced this situation, you will have to ensure you do not have to undergo a similar time again. Use proper contraception every time you have sex and be prepared for emergencies.
  • Take responsibility: Do not play the victim card while dealing with this surprise. Take responsibility for your actions and you will feel in better control of the situation.

An unwanted pregnancy can be a trying time for both individuals involved. Though it is an emotionally draining experience for most, it can help you build a stronger relationship with your partner if it is handled in a mature and sensible manner.

Also Read:

How To Terminate Pregnancy After 1 Month
Natural Home Remedies for Abortion
Abortion Procedures for Termination of Pregnancy

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