Original Research Article| Volume 104, ISSUE 4, P388-393, October 2021

Changes in pregnancy desire after a pregnancy scare in a random sample of young adult women in a Michigan county



      We examined whether and how long young women became more or less likely to desire a pregnancy after experiencing a “pregnancy scare.”

      Study Design

      We used data from the Relationship Dynamics and Social Life (RDSL) study, based on a random, population-based sample of 992 young women from a county in Michigan. They were interviewed weekly for 2.5 years. We used fixed-effects logistic regression models to predict pregnancy desire after a pregnancy scare.


      Of the 759 sexually experienced women we analyzed, 103 (14%) experienced 128 pregnancy scares. A woman's (adjusted) odds of desiring a pregnancy were 3.70 (95% CI 2.27–6.02) times higher during the week after, 3.04 (95% CI 2.30–4.10) times higher during the month after a pregnancy scare, and 2.31 (95% CI 1.71–3.11) times higher during all weeks after the pregnancy scare, compared to her other weeks during the study period. In a final model directly comparing each period to all weeks before the pregnancy scare, the odds of pregnancy desire were highest (aOR 5.08, 95% CI 3.06–8.42) during the first week, slightly smaller (aOR 3.01, 95% CI 2.11 – 4.30) during the subsequent three weeks, and remained elevated (aOR 1.58, 95% CI 1.19–2.09) throughout the remainder of the study period.


      Our analyses suggest that the experience of a pregnancy “scare” does not scare young women away from wanting pregnancies. On the contrary, the state of possibly being pregnant actually made young women in our study more likely to want to be pregnant, on average.


      Very few young women desire a pregnancy during the transition to adulthood; however, a salient life event like a pregnancy scare can abruptly generate a desire for pregnancy. Our study contributes to efforts to help women implement their pregnancy desires by furthering our understanding of those desires and the contexts in which they are formed.


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