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  • Writer's pictureFirst Step Women's Center

Common Contraceptives & Pregnancy Risks


birth control in blue package on a wood surface

“Rates of unintended pregnancies are particularly high in young women, a finding that may be associated with their tendency not to use contraceptives correctly and/or consistently. For millennial women, busy lifestyles and associated stress may impact on daily activities, including taking an oral contraceptive pill.” — National Library of Medicine


No contraceptive method is foolproof. If you think you may be unexpectedly pregnant, make an appointment today. All our services are available at no cost to you.

Failure Rate of Barrier Contraceptives

Male or Female Condoms

Male condoms have a failure usage rate of approximately 14-15%. That means 14-15 people out of every 100 will become pregnant during the first year of use. When used consistently and correctly, they can be 95% effective against pregnancy and STD/STIs. However, when they are misused, the failure rate increases significantly. Pregnancy can occur when a condom breaks, tears, or comes off during sex, isn’t worn properly, or has expired.


Diaphragm/Cervical Cap or Sponge

They are made of soft silicone and are considered to be moderately effective. The typical use failure rate is about 20% when used correctly. Sponges are small donut-shaped devices made of polyurethane foam coated with spermicide. The use failure rate of this method differs in mothers and non-mothers; it ranges between 12-20%, respectively.


Failure Rate of Oral Contraceptives

Oral Contraceptives

There are two types: the combined oral pill and the progestin-only pill. The combined oral contraceptive contains the hormones progestin and estrogen, whereas the progestin-only pill contains just one hormone (progestin). For better efficacy, it is usually advised that the daily dose is taken at the same time each day. Both options have a 7% failure rate when used consistently and correctly on a daily basis.


However, according to the National Library of Medicine, 39% percent of surveyed participants had forgotten to take their contraceptive pill at least once in the past month; 39% also admitted not taking it at the same time each day. This means the failure rate increases exponentially.


Note: Oral contraceptives do not protect against STD/STIs and should be avoided in women who smoke or have a history of blood clots. They are also classified as group 1 carcinogens and can increase your cancer risk.


Pregnant While Taking Contraceptives?

If you think you are pregnant or have become pregnant while taking contraceptives, make an appointment today for free testing, ultrasound confirmation, and nurse consultation. We can confirm how far along you are, rule out an ectopic pregnancy, share all your reproductive health options, and help you plan your next steps.


References:

  1. Contraception | CDC. (n.d.-b). https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/contraception/index.htm

  2. 2. Johnson A, B. (2005). Insertion and Removal of Intrauterine Devices. Am Fam Physician. 2005;71(1):95-102

  3. https://www.contraceptionjournal.org/article/S0010-7824(18)30003-9/pdf

  4. Collins, D. (n.d.). Danica Collins. https://undergroundhealthreporter.com/fact-or-myth-are-birth-control-pills-carcinogens/#:~:text=FACT%3A%20Birth%20control%20pills%20join%20tobacco%2C%20asbestos%2C%20plutonium%2C,%E2%80%9Ca%20known%20and%20probable%20cancer-causing%20agent%20to%20humans.%E2%80%9D

  5. Caetano, C., Peers, T., Papadopoulos, L., Wiggers, K., Engler, Y., & Grant, H. M. (2019). Millennials and contraception: why do they forget? An international survey exploring the impact of lifestyles and stress levels on adherence to a daily contraceptive regimen. The European Journal of Contraception & Reproductive Health Care, 24(1), 30–38. https://doi.org/10.1080/13625187.2018.1563065

  6. American Pregnancy Association https://americanpregnancy.org/unplanned-pregnancy/birth-control-pills-patches-and-devices/contraceptive-sponge/#:~:text=The%20failure%20rates%20are%3A,the%20sponge%20correctly%20every%20time

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