Unintended pregnancy and induced abortion among unmarried women in China: a systematic review

BMC Health Serv Res. 2004 Jan 22;4(1):1. doi: 10.1186/1472-6963-4-1.


Background: Until recently, premarital examination for both men and women was a legal requirement before marriage in China. Researchers have carried out surveys of attendees' sexual activity, pregnancy and abortion before their marriages, trying to map out reproductive health needs in China, according to this unique population-based data. To systematically identify, appraise and summarise all available studies documenting pregnancy and induced abortion among unmarried Chinese women attending premarital examinations.

Methods: We searched the Chinese Biomedical Literature Index from 1978 to 2002; PUBMED; and EMBASE. Trials were assessed and data extracted by two people independently.

Results: Nine studies, of which seven were conducted in the urban areas, one in the rural areas, and one in both urban and rural areas, met the inclusion criteria. In the seven studies in urban areas, the majority of unmarried women had experienced sexual intercourse, with estimates ranging from 54% to 82% in five studies. Estimates of a previous pregnancy ranged from 12% to 32%. Abortion rates were high, ranging between 11 to 55% in 8 studies reporting this, which exclude the one rural study. In the three studies reporting both pregnancy and abortion, most women who had become pregnant had an induced abortion (range 86% to 96%). One large rural study documented a lower low pregnancy rate (20%) and induced abortion rate (0.8%).

Conclusions: There is a large unmet need for temporary methods of contraception in urban areas of China.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced / psychology
  • Abortion, Induced / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adult
  • China
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Marriage / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Needs Assessment
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Unwanted / psychology
  • Pregnancy, Unwanted / statistics & numerical data*
  • Rural Population
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Single Person / statistics & numerical data*
  • Urban Population
  • Women's Health