Unplanned pregnancy and contraceptive use in Hull and East Yorkshire

Contraception. 2016 Mar;93(3):233-5. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2015.10.004. Epub 2015 Oct 28.


Objective: This study has two aims. The first is to assess the proportion of unplanned pregnancies among women attending antenatal clinics (ANCs) and those undergoing induced abortion (IA). The second is to assess both their previous contraceptive use and contraceptive intention, with particular focus on the use or consideration of any long-acting reversible contraceptives in Hull and East Riding in order to inform service redesign.

Study design: Consecutive women attending their first ANC appointment and women attending a gynecology clinic undergoing IA were asked to complete a two-page questionnaire that contained a validated pregnancy intendedness questionnaire [the London Measure of Unplanned Pregnancy (LMUP)] and questions to establish contraceptive use and access prior to this index pregnancy.

Results: The overall response rate was 69%. We received 648 evaluable questionnaires for women undergoing IA. Of these pregnancies, 75.8% [95% confidence interval (CI), 72.3%-79.0%] were unplanned (LMUP, score 0-3). We received 1001 evaluable questionnaires from women booking at ANCs. Of these pregnancies, 5.5% (95% CI, 4.2%-7.0%) were unplanned. Among those with unplanned pregnancies who were not using contraception, 31% reported that they were unable to obtain the method they wanted. Among those using a method immediately prior to the index unplanned pregnancy, 33% stated that it was not the method they wanted; of these, 75% would have preferred sterilization, the implant, injectable or intrauterine contraceptive.

Conclusion: Unplanned pregnancies in this population are common among women undergoing IA but are uncommon among women attending an ANC. About a third of women not using contraception reported that they were unable to obtain the method they wanted, and about a third of women using contraception stated that they were not using the method they would have preferred.

Implications: Opportunities to prevent unplanned pregnancies are missed when staff in primary and secondary care looking after women do not knowledgeably inform, discuss and offer contraception in a timely manner, particularly the most effective long-acting reversible contraceptive methods. Services should be deliverable where women are: this includes within pregnancy care services. Seeking patient experience is an essential component of service redesign.

Keywords: Antenatal clinic; Contraceptive use; Induced abortion; Unplanned pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced
  • Contraception / methods
  • Contraception Behavior / statistics & numerical data*
  • England
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Unplanned*
  • Prenatal Care
  • Surveys and Questionnaires