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How Common is Unexpected Pregnancy?

Many persons going through an unexpected pregnancy find this to be an isolating experience.  That’s natural.  An unexpected pregnancy is a private, deeply personal, often stigmatizing event.  If you’re facing one today, you may feel like you’re confronting the future alone, or like you’re the only person in the world coping with these circumstances.

The truth is, unexpected pregnancies are very common within the United States and globally.  Understanding just how prevalent they are may offer insight into this enduring fact: Although your circumstances are unique, you’re not alone.  Countless individuals near and far find themselves in a similar situation.  No matter where you’re from, it’s possible to connect with compassionate people who mean to support and empower you.  Each of our team members at Avenue Women’s Center is part of that supportive community.

Avenue is a pregnancy center with six limited medical clinics based in the western Chicago metro area.  We’ve been serving persons coping with an unexpected pregnancy for over forty years!  We offer a variety of free first-step pregnancy services, including (but not limited to) lab-quality pregnancy tests, limited medical ultrasounds, and options consultations.

Explore our website to learn more!

Understanding the Facts and Figures…

Within the United States

Guttmacher Institute is a resource for trends and demographic factors surrounding unexpected pregnancy.  It takes time to collect this information and identify patterns, so much of the available data looks to previous years.  However, these statistics from Guttmacher Institute reveal the widespread nature of unexpected pregnancy within the US.

  • In 2011, almost 5% of American women of reproductive age experienced an unexpected pregnancy.
  • The unexpected pregnancy rate is much higher in the US than it is in a lot of other developed nations.
  • In 2011, about 6.1 million pregnancies occurred in the US. Nearly half of those pregnancies were unintended (either “unwanted” or “wanted later”).

Demographic data reveals patterns of inequality.  According to Guttmacher Institute, “These differences do not occur in a vacuum; they reflect differences in social, cultural, structural, economic and political contexts, which influence health behaviors, access to services and outcomes.”

  • Unexpected pregnancy rates are highest among American individuals with low income, young women (ages 18-24), cohabiting persons, and persons of color.
  • In 2011, the prevalence of unintended pregnancy was over 5 times higher among American women of low income than American women of higher income (based on federal poverty levels).
  • In 2011, the rate of unexpected pregnancy among American non-Hispanic black women was more than double that of American non-Hispanic white women.
  • In 2011, women in the US without a high school degree were more likely than women of any other educational level to experience an unexpected pregnancy. General trends show that the occurrence of unintended pregnancy decreases with every educational level.


According to the United Nations, nearly half of global pregnancies are unintended each year.  Abortion is the outcome of an unintended pregnancy more than 60% of the time, and 45% of those abortions are considered unsafe.  Various factors influence the worldwide incidence of unexpected pregnancy.  A few of these are listed below.  Some relate to gender inequality and cultural pressures.

  • War and other crises, which can lead to increasing prevalence of sexual violence and decreasing access to contraception.
  • Use of contraceptive methods that aren’t safe, modern, or appropriate. In addition to limited health care access.

This information isn’t intended to discourage you.  It’s meant to remind you that a lot of complex factors shape the happening of an unexpected pregnancy, on a personal and universal level.  You’re united in this struggle with millions of women worldwide, although every one of your stories is unique.  Avenue Women’s Center can be one of many resources that stands in your corner.  We’re here to offer the practical and emotional support you need to empower yourself and discover your best path forward.

Schedule an appointment today!  Avenue is dedicated to creating a safe environment, where you’ll be met with warmth and confidential care every time you reach out. 





The information provided here is general in nature.  It is not a substitute for a consultation with a medical professional. Before any medical procedure, it is imperative that you discuss your personal medical history, risks, and concerns with your doctor. If you have questions during or after a procedure, your doctor should be immediately contacted. Avenue Women’s Center is not an emergency center.  If you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as bleeding and/or pain, seek immediate medical attention.  Contact your physician, go to an emergency room, or call 911.