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

Posted 6 August 2021

Date: 06 Aug 2021

Type: FSRH Press Releases and Statements

New Office for National Statistics (ONS) 2019 figures on conception rates for women in England and Wales show two continuing trends: the decrease in teenage pregnancies, and the increase in the proportion of pregnancies leading to an abortion in women over-30s.

The under-18 conception rate for England in 2019 was 15.7 conceptions per 1,000 aged 15-17 years. This is a reduction of 6.0% since 2018.

A quarter of conceptions in England and Wales in 2019 led to an abortion, increasing from 24% in 2018 to 25.2% in 2019.

The percentage of conceptions leading to an abortion increased in older women. Whilst the conception rate decreased by 1.2% in women aged 30-34, the percentage of conceptions that led to an abortion in this age group increased from 16.2% to 17.4%, a percentage increase of more than 7%.

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 rate in all regions, we cannot afford to be complacent. We are still seeing significant fluctuations between regions, with some regions in the North of England having a rate almost double that of regions in the South of England.”

“The figures released today by the ONS also show that women are increasingly conceiving later in life, and 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."

"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 needs at any point of their life course, wherever they live."

“It is essential that the Government’s new Sexual and Reproductive Health Strategy addresses these barriers, championing an easily accessible, fully-funded system for women and girls across their lifecourse, from good quality Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) to the post-reproductive years.”

Lucy Emmerson, Chief Executive at Sex Education Forum, said:

"For decades the Sex Education Forum has been championing the importance of quality Relationships and Sex Education as a tool to give all young people the knowledge they need to develop healthy relationships and avoid unplanned pregnancy. The subject is now mandatory and should be taught in schools across England from September and crucially there is a statutory requirement for schools to teach about relevant health and support services. This will be a key intervention for young people to get the support they need when it comes to navigating relationships and sexual health. However, significant challenges remain that must be addressed by the Department for Education, specifically on funding."

"Many schools lack the resources to train teachers on how to approach the wide range of vital topics addressed in these lessons, such as pregnancy choices, pornography, and consent. Lessons must be delivered in a way that is consistent, high quality and grounded in evidence. The compulsory status of the subject is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ensure young people can form healthy relationships and go on to enjoy better sexual health. We cannot afford to miss this."

"Today’s teenage pregnancy figures underscore the urgency in ensuring no part of the country is left behind in tackling the fundamental inequalities - such as social exclusion, poverty and poor attainment - that are often determinants of early pregnancy."

"We are proud that the Faculty of Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare is a partner of the Sex Education Forum and we will continue to work in partnership to address the issue of teenage pregnancy based on the latest evidence and a rights-based approach to young people’s education."



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

Notes to Editors

The ONS also released teenage pregnancy statistics covering the first quarter of 2020, the period immediately prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the first quarter of 2020, the rate of teenage pregnancies stands at 15.2 per 1,000 women aged 15 – 17, whilst it was 16.8 per 1,000 in the same period in 2019. All regions in England and Wales have seen a reduction in rates since quarter 1 2019.

The 2019 data can be found here
The Quarter 1 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.