What should you do if you suddenly find yourself with an unwanted pregnancy
According to statistics, almost half of the pregnancies in the United States are unplanned. The numbers are equally high in sub-Saharan Africa. An unwanted pregnancyis often a source of worry for the woman in question. When a woman gets pregnant without being physically, emotionally and psychology ready to become a mother, she might find herself searching for other options.
An unwanted pregnancycan have a life-altering effect on anyone. But before we go into how to deal with it, what does it really mean?
What is an unwanted pregnancy?
Healthline defines an unwanted pregnancyas a situation where a pregnant woman doesn’t want or isn’t ready to become a parent.
Causes of unwanted pregnancy
Many people will readily name unprotected sex as the main cause of unwanted pregnancies, but it isn’t the only reason a woman will end up carrying a baby she didn’t prepare for.
Docdoc.com lists the causes of unwanted pregnancies to include:
· Contraception failure
· Miscalculation of family planning techniques
· Unprotected sex
· And rape
1. Contraception failure
When it comes to contraceptives, the options are seemingly endless. A person can choose to use male or female condoms, birth control pills, injectable birth control, intra-uterine devices, emergency contraception or morning-after pills, and even undergo sterilization.
Each of these family planning methods come with a warning that they are not supposed to be 100% effective. This means that a woman can still get pregnant even after taking precaution.
2. Miscalculation of family planning techniques
Many women can accurately time pregnancy or prevent unwanted pregnancyby calculating their menstrual cycle and tracking their ovulation and fertile period. Tracking your period allows you to know when it is safe to have sex without getting pregnant or to do the reverse if you are hoping to conceive.
The average length of the menstrual cycle is 28 days, but this can vary from woman to woman. The cycle begins on the first day of menstruation and ends on the first day of the next period. The fertile period starts around day 14 of the menstrual cycle.
This method isn’t completely foolproof, as sperm can live in the body for up to 4 days, meaning that a woman could end up getting pregnant even though her last sexual intercourse was during her safe days.
3. Unprotected sex
Sex without protection is one sure way to end up with an unwanted pregnancy. Using contraceptives will not totally remove the risk of conception, but it can reduce it by a lot. Pregnancy is not the only thing to worry about if you have sex without protection. HIV is mostly transmitted through unprotected sex, and as of now, it has no cure.
Sex without protection can also lead to STDs like gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, and a host of others.
In Nigeria, rape is when someone forces sexual relations on a girl or a woman without her consent or incorrectly obtained consent. It is a punishable offense under the Nigeria Penal Code.
Nigeria has a culture of silence when it comes to rape and sexual crimes, and due to this, a lot of rape cases go unreported. This report has managed to place a number on the incidents of rape in the country. About 4 – 6% percent of adolescent girls have been raped. Out of this number, only about 17% percent of the victims report the crime to the police.
A study found that about 25% of females between the ages of 18 – 24 have experienced some form of sexual abuse before the age of 18. A large number of these victims neither seek medical attention nor report to the authorities.
The reason for this silence is the stigmatization of victims and lack of faith in the authorities.
If you or anyone you know is a victim of sexual abuse and rape in Nigeria, here’s what you should do:
· Get away from the environment where it occurred
· Tell someone you trust, preferably someone who will offer judgment-free support
· Go to the police
· Go to the nearest hospital for treatment—you’ll be offered treatment to prevent an unwanted pregnancyfrom rape and also given post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to prevent HIV
· Go the way you are so the authorities can collect evidence and document the crime—don’t change your clothes, take a shower or brush your teeth
· Go for counseling
Effects of an unwanted pregnancy
Whether you choose to keep an unwanted pregnancyor not, it will definitely have some negative effects on the woman, her baby and her close circle.
It can lead to:
How to deal with unintended pregnancies
A woman could choose to keep her baby or have an abortion. However, Nigeria’s Penal Code and Criminal Code only allow abortions when there is a threat to the mother’s life. These restrictions have contributed to deaths and medical complications resulting from unsafe abortions and high maternal mortality rate.
Final words on dealing with an unwanted pregnancy
Even if a woman decides to keep the baby, she’ll need a great support network to deal with the effects. At this time, she needs prenatal and postnatal care to manage the disruptions in her life.
Resources: Opinion Front