Association of Reproductive Health Professionals
Association of Reproductive Health Professionals
Reproductive Health Topics Publications & Resources Professional Education Newsroom Membership Policy & Advocacy About Us
Quick Reference Guide for Clinicians
Send To A Friend Send To A Friend Bookmark this Page Share this page
Choosing a Birth Control Method

(Published September 2011)

Contraceptive Failure Rates: Table

 

 

 

 

 

Method column (1)

% of women experiencing an unintended pregnancy within the first year of use

% of women continuing use at 1 yeara

Typical useb Column (2)

Perfect usec Column (3)

Column (4)

No methodd

85

85

Spermicidese

28

18

42

Fertility awareness-based methods

24

47

Standard Days methodf

5

TwoDay methodf

4

Ovulation methodf

3

Symptothermal methodf

0.4

Withdrawal

22

4

46

Sponge

36

Parous women

24

20

Nulliparous women

12

9

Condomg

Female (fc)

21

5

41

Male

18

2

43

Diaphragmh

12

6

57

Combined pill and progestin-only pill

9

0.3

67

Evra patch

9

0.3

67

NuvaRing

9

0.3

67

Depo-Provera

6

0.2

56

IUCs

ParaGard (copper T)

0.8

0.6

78

Mirena (LNG)

0.2

0.2

80

Implanon

0.05

0.05

84

Female sterilization

0.5

0.5

100

Male sterilization

0.15

0.10

100

LAM is a highly effective, temporary method of contraception.i

a Among couples attempting to avoid pregnancy, the percentage who continue to use a method for 1 year.

b Among typical couples who initiate use of a method (not necessarily for the first time), the percentage who experience an accidental pregnancy during the first year if they do not stop use for any other reason. Estimates of the probability of pregnancy during the first year of typical use for spermicides and the diaphragm are taken from the 1995 NSFG corrected for underreporting of abortion; estimates for fertility awareness-based methods, withdrawal, the male condom, the pill and Depo-Provera are taken from the 1995 and 2002 NSFG corrected for underreporting of abortion. See the text for the derivation of estimates for the other methods.

c Among couples who initiate use of a method (not necessarily for the first time) and who use it perfectly (both consistently and correctly), the percentage who experience an accidental pregnancy during the first year if they do not stop use for any other reason. See the text for the derivation of the estimate for each method.

d The percentages becoming pregnant in columns (2) and (3) are based on data from populations where contraception is not used and from women who cease using contraception in order to become pregnant. Among such populations, about 89% become pregnant within 1 year. This estimate was lowered slightly (to 85%) to represent the percentage who would become pregnant within 1 year among women now relying on reversible methods of contraception if they abandoned contraception altogether.

e Foams, creams, gels, vaginal suppositories and vaginal film.

f The Ovulation and TwoDay methods are based on evaluation of cervical mucus. The Standard Days method avoids intercourse on cycle days 8 through 19. The Symptothermal method is a double-check method based on evaluation of cervical mucus to determine the first fertile day and evaluation of cervical mucus and temperature to determine the last fertile day.

g Without spermicides.

h With spermicidal cream or jelly.

i However, to maintain effective protection against pregnancy, another method of contraception must be used as soon as menstruation resumes, the frequency or duration of breast-feeds is reduced, bottle feeds are introduced or the baby reaches 6 months of age.