Birth Control

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.