We all have that story of a friend who got pregnant while on the pill or some other form of birth control. Very few forms of contraception are 100 percent effective – however, many come close. Aside from permanent contraception, the Mirena IUD or the Nexplanon implant are the most effective.
Also very successful are the hormonal patch, shot, vaginal ring, and pill. If used correctly, about one in every 100 women will still get pregnant while using these methods, because occasionally the hormones do not entirely counteract the possibility of pregnancy. If used incorrectly (missing a pill, forgetting to insert the ring or put the patch on, or missing an appointment to get the injection), eight in 100 women will likely become pregnant.
For options using a membrane, such as a condom or diaphragm, there’s a slightly higher chance of pregnancy occurring. Male condoms, if used correctly, carry about a two in 100 chance of pregnancy, although if not used correctly (tearing, sliding off, incorrectly put on) the incidence rises to 15 out of 100. For a female condom, 5 out of 100 women will get pregnant if used correctly, whereas 21 out of 100 will likely conceive if not used the right way. A diaphragm that’s fitted by a health care provider results in 6 out of 100 women conceiving, and if not used well in 16 out of 100. For all of these methods, spermicide can improve the results.
Moderately effective types of contraception include the cervical cap, which comes in small, medium, and large sizes; the morning-after pill; and a sponge. How soon the morning-after pill is taken helps determine its success rate, and the sponge is not nearly as effective (32 out of 100) for women who have given birth and don’t use it correctly.
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Dr. Julie Drolet
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