Understanding Your Risks

Contraception Effectiveness Chart

Contraceptive Method Definition Type Failure* Rate
Birth Control Pill (Oral Contraceptive) A hormone pill taken by mouth. Hormone 8%
Injection A hormone injection given every 1-3 months. Hormone 3%
Emergency Contraception An emergency, high dose of birth control pills taken within 72 hours (three days) of sex. Hormone 11-25%
Intraueterine Device (IUD) Plastic device placed inside the uterus that contains copper or hormones. Hormone/Chemical <1%
Implant Small rod inserted under the skin of a woman that releases a low dose of hormone. Hormone <1%
Male Condom A thin, latex, or polyurethane (plastic) tube that covers the penis. Barrier 15%
Female Condom A polyurethane (plastic) tube or pouch that lines the inside of the vagina. Barrier 21%
Cervical Cap A small rubber or plastic cup that fits over the cervix. Barrier 16-32%
Diaphragm A round rubber dome inserted inside the vagina to cover the cervix. Barrier 16%
Contraceptive Sponge A foam sponge containing spermicide placed inside the vagina. Barrier 16-32%
Spermicide A cream, foam, jelly, or insert placed into the vagina that kills sperm. Barrier 29%
Contraceptive Patch A hormone patch placed on the female's skin weekly for 3 weeks, (followed by 1 week off.) Hormone 8%
Vaginal Contraceptive Ring A hormonal ring placed into the vagina for 3 weeks (followed by 1 week off). Hormone 8%
Natural Family Planning/Fertility Awareness Method Avoiding sex near the time of ovulation, when pregnancy is most likely to occur. Other 12-25%
Sterilization Permanent surgery that blocks the pathways of egg or sperm. Other <1%
Withdrawal Male removes his penis from the vagina prior to ejaculation. Other 27%

*Percentage of females who experience an unintended pregnancy during the 1st year of typical use.

Source: 4Parents.gov (U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services)

For added protection against pregnancy, you can use more than one method of contraception at a time. For example, many clinicians recommend that when using condoms, spermicides be used as well. If a woman is allergic to spermicides she can use a natural method and a condom and for extra protection. Any of these combinations will reduce the predicted failure rate.

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