Unintended Pregnancy in the United States


In the U.S., nearly 36% of all pregnancies in every state across the country are unintended. There are a number of reasons that these pregnancies occur, but often lack of education and affordable health care are key factors for this alarmingly high percentage. To better understand the social and economic impacts of unintended pregnancy in the U.S., the following statistics outline the current situation in the United States.

Facts from Guttmacher Institute (February 2015)

  • The average American family would like to have two children. In pursuit of this, an average of about 5 years is spent pregnant, postpartum or trying to conceive. The average American women will also spend greater than ¾ of her lifetime attempting to prevent unplanned pregnancy.
  • Most individuals or families plan the timing of having a child around when they are most financially able to support another child. This is why typically spacing or proper timing is planned between each pregnancy. When this timing is thrown off and too little time passes between pregnancies a social and economic outcome is often the result. That’s because births in these circumstances more often result in adverse maternal and child health. These unintended pregnancies have a public health impact.
  • With this in mind, the U.S. Department of Health and Public Services aims to reduce the unintended pregnancy rate by 10% over the next decade.
  • By 45 years of age more than half of all women in the U.S. will have an unintended pregnancy. Every 3 in 10 will have an abortion as a result.
  • Modern contraception is key for reducing unplanned pregnancy rates. The 2/3 of women in the U.S. at risk for unintended pregnancy who use contraception regularly and as instructed only account for 5% of all the unplanned pregnancies in the country.

Facts from Advocates for Youth 

  • In 2006, the estimated pregnancy risk was 71.5 pregnancies per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 to 19.
  • In 2007 among teen women 15 to 19, 14.5 of every 1000 had an abortion to terminate their pregnancy.
  • One third of all unintended pregnancies occur in women who are in their 20s. Eight-six percent of pregnancies occurring in unmarried twenty-something women are unintended.