We provide all methods of birth control, including hormonal and non-hormonal options.
Your choice of a birth control method is a significant decision concerning your health, your sexuality, and your life. Many encounter contradictory information regarding the effectiveness and safety of various methods of birth control. Most women are concerned about:
- How a method works and how to use it
- Whether a method is physically safe for her health;
- How effective the method is in preventing pregnancy.
- Whether a method protects her and her partner against contracting a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI).
Click on any link in our birth control section, to read specific information on how methods works, physical safety, and effectiveness against spreading STI's.
Effectiveness is the rate of successfully preventing pregnancy per 1000 women over a period of a year. If a method is 99.5% effective, that means that 5 out of 1000 women will become pregnant.
The lower rate listed above is the actual percent of women using the method, or actual use. The upper rate is the theoretical effectiveness, or perfect use, based on mathematical formulas.
Actual use takes into account the failure of the contraceptive to work, difficulties with use, and other factors (e.g., women on hormonal birth control are more likely to have a failure when taking antibiotics).
Method Typical Use - Perfect Use
- Cervical Cap 86-92%
- Male Condom 85-98%
- Female Condom 79-95%
- Depo Provera 97-99%
- Diaphragm 86-94%
- Emergency Contraception No effectiveness is given (not a continuous method of birth control)
- Fertility Awareness 80-98%
- Implant 99.6%
- IUD: Paragard 99.2-99.4%
- IUD: Mirena 99.9%
- Nuvaring 98%
- Evra Patch 92-99%
- The Pill 92-99%
- Spermicides, cream, gel, film 71-82%
- Spermicide, with condoms 99% (theoretical data available only)
- Sponge 80-91%
- Withdrawal (pulling out) 73-96%
- Female Sterilization 99.5%
- Male Sterilization 99.85-99.99%
*Effectiveness data obtained from Contraceptive Technology 19th Revised Edition, Hatcher el (New York: 2007)
It is helpful to remember that without using any birth control method; approximately 850 women out of 1000 will become pregnant. More information about problems with birth control usage, unprotected sex, and what is available to women please go to our section on Emergency Contraception.