Causes of Unintended Pregnancy
Unintended pregnancy is an unwelcome situation that no couple desires. Several reasons contribute to this issue, and it’s crucial for women to be aware of them to prevent pregnancy when they are not fully prepared.
Issues with Contraceptive Methods
Common and secure contraceptive methods today include condom use, intrauterine device (IUD) insertion, and birth control pills. However, no method offers 100% effectiveness in preventing pregnancy due to individual biological differences. For instance, what may be suitable for an IUD may not be the case for birth control pills. Additionally, not following usage instructions can also result in unintended pregnancies.
Some couples mistakenly believe that the withdrawal method prevents pregnancy. However, it only reduces the likelihood, and fertilization can still occur if the male partner has healthy sperm.
Irregular Menstrual Cycles
Women with irregular menstrual cycles are more prone to experiencing signs of unintended pregnancy. This is because ovulation can happen at any time during the month, making it challenging to predict and apply contraceptive methods effectively.
Pregnancy While Breastfeeding
Exclusive breastfeeding can serve as an effective and safe contraceptive method for the first 6 months postpartum. However, its effectiveness diminishes as the mother’s menstrual cycle resumes or extends beyond the 6-month period. This may lead couples to become careless about contraception during intercourse, resulting in unintended pregnancies. To ensure optimal conditions for the child, couples must adhere to reliable contraceptive methods.
Signs of Unintended Pregnancy Easy to Recognize
Here are some common signs of unintended pregnancy that women should be aware of to detect pregnancy early and take timely action:
Heightened Sense of Smell:
One of the most noticeable signs is a heightened sense of smell in pregnant women. Some odors that often induce nausea and discomfort include fish sauce, boiling rice, perfume, toothpaste, and laundry detergent. Even scents that were previously liked may become difficult to tolerate. The main cause of this change is the increased estrogen hormone, making the sense of smell more sensitive.
Frequent mood swings are a common sign of unplanned pregnancy in pregnant women. The characteristic feature is that the pregnant woman can be very happy and excited but can become sad and depressed immediately. This condition may persist throughout pregnancy, extending even until the breastfeeding period. In the case of prolonged depression, the pregnant woman should seek advice from a doctor, as it may be a symptom of depression during pregnancy. If not detected and treated in time, this condition can lead to various problems for both mother and child.
In the early weeks of pregnancy, the level of the progesterone hormone increases and disrupts the body’s internal hormone balance. Consequently, women may feel tired, unable to concentrate, and constantly sleepy.
A swollen belly is also one of the signs of unplanned pregnancy after intercourse for 1-3 weeks. At this stage, the fetus has implanted in the uterine wall and begins to develop. However, it is challenging for women to recognize this if only observed with the naked eye.
A menstrual cycle typically spans from 21 to 35 days, varying based on individual physiology. If a woman hasn’t had her period for more than 7 days, there’s a high likelihood of pregnancy. However, this is applicable only under the following circumstances:
- Women have a regular monthly menstrual cycle.
- Women do not use safe contraceptive methods during intercourse.
Breast Tightness and Sensitivity
Around one month into pregnancy, women may experience increased breast tightness and sensitivity, akin to being bitten by ants or needles, especially at the nipples. The discomfort arises from elevated pregnancy hormone levels, leading to increased blood flow to the breast area. Pregnant mothers should opt for loose-fitting bras and minimize friction for enhanced comfort.
Changes in Vaginal Discharge
Another unintended sign of pregnancy is an upswing in vaginal discharge, causing a sensation of dampness and discomfort. While this discharge is harmless, excessive cleaning may lead to skin irritation and disrupt the natural bacterial balance in the vaginal area. Maintaining daily hygiene and regularly changing underwear is advisable. Strange odor or color in vaginal discharge necessitates prompt medical attention, as it could indicate a gynecological issue.
Increased frequency of urination, particularly at night and in the early morning, is common among pregnant women. Elevated blood volume prompts continuous kidney function, while the enlarged uterus pressing on the bladder creates a frequent urge to urinate.
Morning sickness typically sets in about two weeks after successful fertilization. Pregnant women may feel discomfort and nausea, particularly with the smell of coffee, fried foods, milk, or eggs. To alleviate discomfort, women should supplement with vitamins from fresh fruits and use essential oil diffusers. Nausea is a clear sign of unplanned pregnancy.
Pregnant women often experience loose and heavy abdominal muscles, accompanied by hip and back pain. Similar to premenstrual syndrome but lasting longer, pregnant women should prioritize rest and avoid heavy lifting to safeguard both maternal and fetal health.
Muscle cramps during pregnancy result from uterine stretching, exerting pressure on blood vessels and leg muscles. This sign mirrors early menstrual cycle cramps, necessitating consideration of other bodily changes for an accurate conclusion.
Early pregnancy brings about frequent fatigue, attributed to increased progesterone levels hindering breathing and causing aches. The pregnant body operates at full capacity to supply the fetus in the initial stages, with fatigue gradually diminishing into the second trimester.
What to Do with an Unintended Pregnancy?
Facing an unintended pregnancy can be challenging for women, and below is expert advice for those finding themselves in this situation.
Handling an Unintended Pregnancy
After the signs of an unintended pregnancy emerge, women need to carefully consider and make informed decisions.
Terminating a Pregnancy
The dilemma of “What should I do with an unintended pregnancy?” is one every woman may face. The best approach is to discuss it with a partner to ensure that the decision won’t adversely affect the relationship.
If the decision is to terminate the pregnancy, women should mentally prepare for the risks associated with abortion, including:
- Uterine damage leading to rupture, perforation, or loss of function, potentially causing female infertility.
- Excessive vaginal bleeding.
- Pain during and after surgery.
- Uterine cramps leading to abdominal pain.
- Feelings of anxiety and guilt.
At this point, sharing feelings with a partner and seeking advice from a doctor is crucial for a quick and healthy recovery.
In recent years, three commonly used safe abortion methods exist. Depending on the mother’s health and the stage of pregnancy, the doctor will choose the appropriate method:
- Medication: This involves using drugs to stimulate uterine contractions and expel the fetus, resembling the natural process of miscarriage. It is relatively safe but suitable only for early pregnancies (less than 7 weeks).
- Vacuum Aspiration: This method uses a sterile tube to suction the fetus through the cervix, known for its low complication rate, quick procedure, and minimal bleeding. Applicable for pregnancies between 8-12 weeks.
- Dilation and Curettage (D&C): This method is not recommended due to its risks, involving the insertion of medical instruments into the uterus to scrape and remove the fetus, causing significant damage and pain to the mother.
Continuing the Pregnancy:
Continuing the pregnancy is an option that women should consider. If they choose to do so, factors like finances, the relationship with the partner, health, and pregnancy knowledge should be weighed.
Positive thinking and preparedness for any situation are essential to avoid impacting the baby’s development. If overwhelmed, it’s advisable to share concerns with loved ones or seek advice from a doctor.
In summary, women experiencing unintended pregnancies are urged to carefully consider their options, as terminating a pregnancy can have serious consequences for reproductive health and ethical concerns. Welcoming a new family member can bring significant meaning and happiness to life.
Here are some guidelines for managing an unintended pregnancy
- Stay Calm: Experiencing an unplanned pregnancy can be anxiety-inducing, but it doesn’t mean everything will fall apart. It’s important to remain calm, discuss the situation with your partner, and make informed decisions.
- Think Positively: Feelings of guilt and shame may accompany an unplanned pregnancy, especially if the other person refuses responsibility. Overcoming this involves thinking positively, releasing negative emotions, and informing your family for support.
- Learn from Experience: In such situations, learning from the experience is crucial. Understanding pregnancy knowledge and using contraceptive methods during sex can help prevent it from happening again.
- Take Responsibility: Recognize that the fetus is a part of the mother’s body, a wonderful combination of two people. Both partners need to be brave and take responsibility for their actions.
Read more: What Are the Signs of Pregnancy at 16?
To prevent unintended pregnancy, consider the following tips
- Use Condoms: The simplest and most effective method for preventing pregnancy is using condoms during sexual intercourse. This also helps prevent sexually transmitted infections. Ensure you buy condoms from reputable sources such as drug stores or supermarkets.
- Take Birth Control Pills: Birth control pills have a high success rate in preventing pregnancy, but frequent use may lead to side effects like infertility, headaches, back pain, and hormonal imbalances.
- Use an Intrauterine Device (IUD): An IUD is a small device inserted into the uterus to prevent the meeting of sperm and egg. The lifespan of an IUD is approximately 3-5 years, depending on the chosen product.
These are straightforward ways to prevent unintended pregnancy along with advice from experts for women. It is hoped that this information will assist women in dealing with the situation if they unfortunately encounter it.
Johnny Jacks was born in 1985 in Texas, USA. He is the founder of Good Health Plan and is passionate about helping people improve their health and physical well-being. With over a decade of experience working in the healthcare industry, he currently works at Goodheathplan.com – a blog that shares knowledge on beauty and health.