About Birth Control and Responsible Sex
You are encouraged to do your own research if you are interested in learning more about any of the topics discussed in this guide. When looking for references, try to consult objective literature or literature from a variety of viewpoints.
Why Are Your Failure Rates So High?
You may come across a variety of different statistics regarding certain methods of contraception. Read the fine print. Check to see if the statistics cited are among average users or ideal users under research conditions. Have the couples tested been using this method of contraception for more than a year? How old are the women being studied? Have they borne children before? Have couples in the study completed their families, or are they just trying to space their children? All of these things will alter the results of the data.
Failure rates provided at this site may be higher than failure rates reported elsewhere. This is because rates are based on a meta-analysis of several studies of real women using these methods under real-world situations. Failure rates reported by the manufacturers will be lower but less realistic.
Are Doctors Unbiased?
Although it is important to communicate with your physician about your contraceptive decision, keep in mind that doctors and nurses are not always reliable sources of information.
According to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, clinicians tended to give lowest or lower-than-best failure rates for oral contraceptives and IUDs, higher-than-typical failure rates for condoms, and typical rates for diaphragms and foam. It was concluded that family planners bias their responses extensively in favor of methods doctors provide most frequently — oral contraceptives and, at that time, IUDs. In spite of their safety, methods like spermicides, condoms, and withdrawal, earned undeservedly low ratings by family planning clinics and doctors offices.
Natural family planning, the safest and least expensive of all methods of birth control, is often completely omitted as a valid and effective method of pregnancy prevention. For example, in its 2006-2007 Annual Report, Planned Parenthood Federation of America reported providing fertility awareness-based methods to only 0.2% of clients seeking contraceptives, whereas hormonal methods were provided to 64%. Consult more than one source when considering your contraceptive choices. Following are some resources available to you.
Journal Article Sources
- Larimore et al., "Postfertilization," Archives of Family Medicine, 2000, 9:126-133
- Fu et al. "Contraceptive Failure Rates," Family Planning Perspectives, 1999, 31(2):56-63
- Ranjit et al. "Contraceptive Failure Rates," Family Planning Perspectives, 2001, 33(1):19-27
- William D. Mosher, Gladys M. Martinez, Anjani Chandra, Joyce C. Abma, Stephanie J. Willson, "Advance Data from Vital and Health Statistics: Use of Contraception and Use of Family Planning Services in the United States: 1982-2002," Division of Vital Statistics, CDC, No. 350, Dec 2004.
- L. Lavreys, J.M. Baeten, H.L. Martin Jr, J.K. Kreiss, K. Mandaliya, J. Ndinya-Achola, J. Overbaugh. "Hormonal Contraception and Risk of HIV-1 Acquisition: Results of a 10-Year Prospective Study," International AIDS Society, July 14, 2003.
Over the Counter Contraceptives
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