Prevalence and determinants of unintended pregnancy in sub-Saharan Africa : a multi-country analysis of demographic and health surveys

Edward Kwabena AMEYAW, Eugene BUDU, Francis SAMBAH, Linus BAATIEMA, Francis APPIAH, Abdul Aziz SEIDU*, Bright Opoku AHINKORAH

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

87 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Approximately 14 million unintended pregnancies are recorded annually in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). We sought to investigate the prevalence and determinants of unintended pregnancies among women in sub-Saharan Africa. 

Materials and methods: The study pooled data from current Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) conducted from January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2016 from 29 countries in SSA. Logistic regression analysis was used to examine the factors that influence unintended pregnancies in SSA. Results were presented using odds ratios (OR). 

Results: We found overall unintended pregnancy prevalence rate of 29%, ranging from 10.8% in Nigeria to 54.5% in Namibia. As compared to women aged 15–19 years, women of all other age categories had higher odds of unintended pregnancies. Married women were 6 times more probable to report unintended pregnancy as compared to women who had never married (OR = 6.29, CI = 5.65–7.01). The phenomenon had higher odds among rural residents as compared to urban residents (OR = 1.08, CI = 1.01–1.16). Women with primary (OR = 0.74, CI = 0.69–0.80) and secondary (OR = 0.71, CI = 0.65–0.77) levels of education had less chances of unintended pregnancies, compared to those with no education. Again, women in all other wealth categories had less probability of unintended pregnancy, as compared to women with poorest wealth status. 

Conclusion: Our study contributes substantially towards the discourse of maternal wellbeing by unveiling the prevalence and determinants of unintended pregnancy across the SSA region. There is the need for SSA countries with high prevalence of unintended pregnancies to consider past and present successful interventions of other countries within the region such as health education, counselling, skills-building, comprehensive sex education and access to contraception. Much of these efforts rest with the governments of SSA countries.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0220970
Number of pages16
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 9 Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to Measure DHS for granting us access to the data used for this study. We acknowledge Mr. Ebenezer Agbaglo of the Department of English, University of Cape Coast who thoroughly copyedited this manuscript for language usage, spelling and grammar.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Ameyaw et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Dive into the research topics of 'Prevalence and determinants of unintended pregnancy in sub-Saharan Africa : a multi-country analysis of demographic and health surveys'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this