FSRH statement: ONS releases 2020 conception figures for women in England and Wales

Posted 14 April 2022

Date: 14 Apr 2022

Type: FSRH Press Releases and Statements

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) 2020 figures on conception rates for women in England and Wales were released today. These provide a first look at the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on conception rates. The key points are:

  • There were 817,515 conceptions in 2020 to women aged 15 to 44 years in England and Wales, marking the sixth consecutive annual decrease.
  • Women in the 30-to-34 age group had the highest number of conceptions for the fourth year in a row, with a record high of 248,528 conceptions in 2020.
  • The under-18 conception rate fell to 13.1 conceptions per 1,000 women in 2020 from 15.8 per 1,000 women in 2019, continuing the trend of decreasing conception rates and record lows seen since 2007.
  • The percentage of conceptions leading to legal abortions remained around a quarter, at 25.3% in 2020.
  • London has seen the biggest decrease in conception rates in the last decade from 90.1 conceptions per 1,000 women in 2009 to 76.2 in 2020, a 15% decrease; the North West now has the highest conception rate.
Dr Asha Kasliwal, President of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH), said:

“We welcome the annual conception figures released today by the Office for National Statistics.

While we have seen a decline in the under-18 conception rates in all regions, we cannot afford to be complacent. We are still seeing significant inequalities between regions, with some areas in the North of England having a rate almost double that of areas in the South.

The figures released today also show that women are increasingly conceiving later in life. Although for many this is a conscious decision, the figures do appear to reflect that for some this is not so. The increase in percentage of conceptions leading to an abortion in older women may indicate an unmet need for contraceptive care and services for older women.

We need a joined-up holistic healthcare system that is simple to navigate and supports women and girls of any age to make the best choices for their sexual and reproductive health at any point of their life course, wherever they live.

We call on the Government to prioritise the unmet need for contraception and to adequately fund sexual and reproductive healthcare services over the life course.”


For further information, please contact: Camila Azevedo, External Affairs Manager, at 07379408587 / cazevedo@fsrh.org

Notes to Editors

The 2020 data can be found here

About FSRH

The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) is the largest UK professional membership organisation working at the heart of sexual and reproductive health (SRH), supporting healthcare professionals to deliver high quality care. It works with its 15,000 members to shape sexual reproductive health for all. It produces evidence-based clinical guidance, standards, training, qualifications and research into SRH. It also delivers conferences and publishes the journal BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health in partnership with the BMJ.