Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Marie Stopes: Unplanned pregnancy is as much a risk for older women than teenagers

Tuesday, 09, Feb 2010 12:00

Research highlighted today (Tuesday 9th February) by the fpa as part of their Contraceptive Awareness Week campaign conceivable? reveals that unplanned pregnancies do not just happen to teenagers; in fact, abortion rates are the same for women aged 40-44 as for the under 16 year olds1. Leading sexual health charity Marie Stopes International makes the following statement:

“We welcome the fpa's latest campaign, which importantly highlights that unplanned pregnancies do not just happen to teenagers. Unplanned pregnancy is a risk for any woman of reproductive age, and we at Marie Stopes International see women of all ages, including those over the age of 35, seeking advice and treatment for unplanned pregnancy.

Older women facing an unplanned pregnancy are often shocked to find themselves in this position - many assume that their age protects them against unplanned pregnancy, and are surprised to learn that they are in fact pregnant. The current storyline surrounding Lynette in Channel Four television series Desperate Housewives realistically portrays the shock, confusion and unhappiness an unplanned pregnancy can bring to older women, particularly those who consider their family to be complete. It is therefore vital that women of all ages are provided with medically accurate and non-judgmental information and advice, and are supported through an unplanned pregnancy.

The fpa's campaign also reveals the importance of making sure women of all ages can access contraceptive advice and services. Many of the educational campaigns in the UK target younger women, which although important, may leave older women unaware of the full range of contraceptive options available to them. It is vital that all women are fully informed about their contraceptive choices, so that they can choose the method most suited to their personal circumstances and lifestyle, and protect themselves not just against unplanned pregnancy but also sexually transmitted infections.

Personal choice is very important, as individual circumstances can vary greatly for women in their thirties and forties – some women over 35 may have completed their family, so might prefer a longer term method of contraception such as the contraceptive implant to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. Other women over 35 may be planning a family in the not-to-distant future, so for them a long-acting method may not be suitable. We advise women of all ages to visit their local Marie Stopes International clinic or their healthcare provider for further information.

For women who have had unprotected sex and think they might be pregnant, our advice would be to bite the bullet and seek advice from your healthcare provider or specialist centre such as Marie Stopes International as soon as possible. Within five days of unprotected sex, emergency contraception is available. A test for sexually transmitted infections is also advisable.”

1. Abortion statistics, England and Wales: 2008 showing that under 16s have an abortion rate of 4 per 1,000 women and women aged 40-44 have an abortion rate of 4 per 1,000 women.

All quotes are attributable to Emily James, Marie Stopes International.

- Ends -