It can "just happen" at just about any age

Even women in their 40s should use protection.

Lynn Harris
May 7, 2008 11:00PM (UTC)

Fill up those fishbowls with condoms, folks: Today is the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. Yes, teen pregnancy rates are down, but we still need at least one day to work this stuff out -- after all, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, 30 percent of teenage girls become pregnant at least once before age 20 and 82 percent of teen pregnancies are unintended.

Turns out, though, that maybe the grown-ups need their own day as well. As Wall Street Journal columnist Johanna Bennett recently noted (subscription only; summary here), data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that between 2000 and 2005, the number of live births among women ages 45 to 54 increased 45 percent. But perhaps contrary to popular imagination, they're not only women defying the odds with in vitro fertilization. According to a 2001 survey by the National Center for Health Statistics, 40 percent of pregnancies among women 40 and up are unintended. (Also, 7 percent of women 40-44 had recently had unprotected sex but did not want to become pregnant.) True, a 45-year-old woman has about a 1 percent chance of conceiving using her own eggs. But given that all you hear once you hit, like, 28, is, "Hurry up, your eggs are goners!" older women who do not wish to become older mothers might do better -- just in case -- to heed the no-glove-no-love messages meant for teens.

Lynn Harris

Award-winning journalist Lynn Harris is author of the comic novel "Death by Chick Lit" and co-creator of She also writes for the New York Times, Glamour, and many others.

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