- Not using contraception or family planning services.
- Using contraception inconsistently or incorrectly.
- Contraceptive failure (the method was used correctly, but did not work.) Contraceptive failure accounts for a relatively small fraction of unintended pregnancies when modern highly effective contraceptives are used.
A condom breaking during intercourse or using a condom with a hole in it can lead to malfunctioning contraceptives.
Reasons contraceptives might not have been used or been used incorrectly include:
- Coercion – rape, or even forced pregnancy, which sometimes happens in the context of domestic violence. Unintended pregnancies are more likely to be associated with abuse than intended pregnancies. This may also include birth control sabotage, which is the manipulation of someone’s use of birth control to undermine efforts to prevent pregnancy.
- Lack of knowledge about sex and reproduction, including erroneous beliefs.
- Lack of knowledge or experience with the contraceptive or lack of motivation to use it correctly.
- Lack of planning or ambivalence about whether to have a child.
- Lack of over-the-counter availability of contraceptives.
- Inability or unwillingness to attend healthcare appointments to obtain contraceptives.
- A mistaken belief that the woman is infertile, e.g. post-menopausal, previous diagnosis of infertility
- Being under the influence of alcohol
comprehensive sexual education,
availability of family planning services, abstinence and increased access to a range of effective birth control methods.
Most unintended pregnancies result from not using contraception, and
many result from using contraceptives inconsistently or incorrectly.
Though, increased rates of sexual activity are also a factor.