Sexual Health

Thinking about pregnancy and abortion

Most of us will know someone who got pregnant whilst still at school, or who had kids shortly after they left. Although people we interviewed agreed that teenagers can make good parents, the only real advantage most suggested is that people can 'grow up with' their children. Most agreed that being a young single parent is tough and having a partner or supportive family would make things easier.

Many people believe the UK's high teenage pregnancy rate is a disgrace and blame British attitudes to sex, and poor sex education in schools (see 'Experiences of young mothers' and 'Experiences of young fathers').
Ambition has been described as the 'best contraceptive' - and this was often the view of the women we interviewed who'd been to college or intend to have a career. Many are influenced by their parents instilling the need to be 'successful', and felt that having an unplanned pregnancy could be a problem. Some of those we talked to were against abortion on religious or moral grounds. Others found that their views on the subject changed as they got older.
Women we talked to who'd had pregnancy scares had usually thought harder about their views on abortion. Often this prompted them to review their contraceptive use, or take emergency contraception (see 'Emergency contraception'). Some people find they 'warm' to the idea of pregnancy during a scare.
Many of the people we interviewed felt that the best time to start a family was their late 20s or early 30s - although one 25 year old said 'It used to be 30 but it's coming up very quickly, so maybe 35'.  

Before having a baby they usually want to have gone travelling, have had a good time without responsibilities, have sorted out their work and money, have a house and be in a stable (or married) relationship.

Sometimes views on having children can alter after meeting a partner, some people want to spend time with their partner whilst others want children sooner. Some of those we interviewed felt if they didn't have time to enjoy their own youth and get a career, they might be resentful parents.
Lesbians can consider having children after sperm donation, but many find the question of having children a difficult part of being gay.
In the UK women are having children at a later age and a greater number than ever before never have children. Many people decide not to have children, but there are also many who want to but have difficulty getting pregnant. 

Some said that they would ideally be in a happy stable relationship when they have children but would consider having children on their own. Some thought it was important for their to be a man in the child's life, even if he was not the biological father.

Last reviewed January 2016.

Last updated August 2012.

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