Effectiveness Rate of Birth Control Methods

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Topic Overview

This table compares how well different birth control methods work. The column on the right shows how many women out of 100 will have an unplanned pregnancy in the first year of using a method. These numbers reflect 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. But even with perfect use, a method will still fail to prevent a pregnancy in a certain number of women.

Effectiveness of birth control methods
Type Method used Number of unplanned pregnancies out of 100 typical users1, 2 Number of unplanned pregnancies out of 100 people that used the method exactly as directed1, 2
Hormonal

Combination birth control pills

9

Fewer than 1.

Hormonal implant

Fewer than 1.

Fewer than 1.

The shot

6

Fewer than 1.

Transdermal patch

9

Fewer than 1.

Progestin-only pills (mini-pills)

9

Fewer than 1.

Vaginal ring

9

Fewer than 1.

IUD

Hormonal IUD

Fewer than 1.

Fewer than 1.

Copper IUD

Fewer than 1.

Fewer than 1.

Barrier methods

Condom, male

18

2

Withdrawal

22

4

Condom, female

21

5

Diaphragm with spermicide

12

6

Spermicide alone

28

18

Sponge with spermicide (no previous vaginal childbirth)

12

9

Sponge with spermicide (after vaginal childbirth)

24

20

Cervical cap (no previous vaginal childbirth)

16

9

Cervical cap (after vaginal delivery)

32

26

Fertility awareness

Periodic abstinence and fertility awareness methods

24

5

Surgery

Vasectomy

Fewer than 1.

Fewer than 1.

Tubal ligation or tubal implants

Fewer than 1.

Fewer than 1.

No birth control

No birth control

85

85

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

Related Information

References

Citations

  1. Trussell J, Guthrie KA (2011). Choosing a contraceptive: Efficacy, safety, and personal considerations. In RA Hatcher et al., eds., Contraceptive Technology, 20th ed., pp. 45–74. Atlanta: Ardent Media.
  2. Abramowicz M (2010). Choice of contraceptives. Treatment Guidelines From The Medical Letter, 8(100): 89–96.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Femi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology

Current as ofSeptember 30, 2014