Experts fear older women are
ditching contraception in the mistaken belief that they cannot get pregnant
past a certain age.
The UK’s Family Planning
Association believes the message on infertility and age has gone “too
far” and although fertility wanes, women can still get pregnant well into
their thirties, forties and even fifties.
Abortion rates for women aged 40 to
44 match those for the under 16s, figures for England and Wales show. In 2008, both of these groups had an abortion
rate of four per 1,000 women.
There are many reasons why some
women opt for an abortion – including birth abnormalities in the baby, which
are more common when the mothers are older.
But the Family Planning Association
says its anecdotal evidence suggests some of the abortions are because women
wrongly assumed they could not get pregnant because they were too old.
Aimed at women aged 35 and over,
the association’s new campaign ‘Conceivable?’ reminds women to stay vigilant
about unplanned pregnancy and to keep using contraception until after the
menopause if they do not wish to become pregnant.
Chief executive of the association Julie
Bentley said: “Whilst the message about fertility declining with age is an
important one, it is often overplayed, alongside disproportionate messaging
about unplanned teenage pregnancies.
“It sends an inaccurate
message to women and society that only the young fall pregnant and is leading
older women to believe their fertility has gone long before it actually