Effectiveness rate of birth control methods

The following table compares the effectiveness of different birth control methods. The column on the right shows the number of women out of 100 who will have an unplanned pregnancy in the first year of using a method. These numbers represent studies of real-life usage.

You can improve on the real-life failure rate of birth control methods by consistently using birth control methods as directed. However, even if used perfectly each time, a method will still fail to prevent a pregnancy in a certain number of women.

Effectiveness of birth control methods
Category Method Number of unplanned pregnancies among 100 typical users1
Hormonal

Combination birth control pills

8

Implant (Implanon)2

Fewer than 1

Injections (Depo-Provera)

3

Transdermal patch

8

Progestin-only pills (mini-pills)

8

Vaginal ring

8

IUD

Levonorgestrel (LNg 20) IUD

Fewer than 1

Copper T 380-A IUD

Fewer than 1

Barrier methods

Condom, male

15

Withdrawal

27

Condom, female

21

Diaphragm with spermicide

16

Spermicide alone

29

Sponge with spermicide (no previous vaginal childbirth)

16

Sponge with spermicide (after vaginal childbirth)

32

Cervical cap (no previous vaginal childbirth)

16

Cervical cap (after vaginal delivery)

32

Fertility awareness

Periodic abstinence and fertility awareness methods

25

Surgery

Vasectomy

Fewer than 1

Tubal ligation or tubal implants

Fewer than 1

No birth control

No birth control

85

The numbers shown in the above table show the typical use rates for the average population, including people who use their birth control very carefully and those who do not.

Citations

  1. Trussell J (2004). The essentials of contraception: Efficacy, safety, and personal considerations. In RA Hatcher et al., eds., Contraceptive Technology, 18th ed., pp. 221–252. New York: Ardent Media.
  2. Hatcher RA (2004). Depo-Provera injections, implants, and progestin-only pills (minipills). In RA Hatcher et al., eds., Contraceptive Technology, 18th ed., pp. 461–494. New York: Ardent Media.

Last Updated: May 22, 2008

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