21.10.2021

Contraceptive effectiveness

Birth control performance indicators depend on how many women out of 100 become pregnant during the year after using a particular method. Another important question: how difficult is it to use it correctly? Experts usually mention two terms when it comes to indicators of contraceptive effectiveness: ideal and typical or actual use.

Some methods of contraception have the same or almost the same performance indicators for both ideal and actual or typical use. This is due to the fact that after installing a contraceptive, it can no longer shift either before, during, or after sex. These methods include various forms of IUDs (intrauterine devices) – after placement in the cervix, they do not move, therefore, performance indicators are almost the same and very close to 100%.

Other methods with similar performance indicators are an implant (a small rod with a progestin that is implanted in the arm), as well as male sterilization, known as vasectomy, and female sterilization, called tubal ligation. Both of these methods remain forever and it is impossible to reverse the process.

Ideal versus typical: contraception versus reality

“Ideal use” is how well defined contraception prevents pregnancy in 100 women during the year of proper use.

For example, when using a male condom, this means that it is put on the penis in an upright position until the appearance of the pre-ejaculate. The condom should be completely covered by the penis and should not be stretched, torn or torn before putting on or during use. It must also be properly removed away from the vagina so that the collected sperm cannot accidentally spill or leak into it.

“Typical or actual use” is how effective the contraceptive is when it is used in most cases in everyday life. This indicator is determined when 100 women have sex during the year and use contraceptives each time, but may not follow the instructions for proper use.

According to the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (ARHP), male condoms, when used perfectly, are 98 percent effective (2 out of 100 women reported having become pregnant despite using a condom each time).

Focus on typical use when choosing a contraceptive method

Returning to the male condom, typical use may include putting the condom on the erect penis, but after the appearance of the pre-ejaculate (this means that sperm can enter the outside of the condom and then into the vagina).

Another typical use is putting on a condom without leaving air bubbles on the tip, which can cause the condom to rupture during intercourse. Expired condoms or attempted reuse are other ways to reduce their effectiveness.

According to the same data from the Association of Reproductive Health Specialists, the effectiveness of male condoms for “typical use” is 85 percent (15 out of 100 women reported having become pregnant, using male condoms for birth control for a year).

Consistency is the key to contraceptive effectiveness

Ultimately, the correct and consistent use of contraceptives will help reduce the likelihood of an unwanted pregnancy and bring the method closer to ideal performance indicators.

Now we leave for you a cheat sheet on the effectiveness of various methods of contraception:

  • Birth control pills. Ideal use -99%, typical -91%.
  • Injection. Ideal use -99%, typical -94%.
  • Implant Ideal use -99%, typical -99%.
  • Vaginal Ring or NuvaRing. Ideal use -99%, typical -91%.
  • Patch Ideal use -99%, typical -91%.
  • IUD (intrauterine device). Ideal use -99%; typical -99%.
  • Diaphragm. Ideal use – 94% when coated with spermicide (a lubricant that kills semen), typical use – 88%.
  • Sponge. Ideal use – from 80 to 91%, typical – from 76 to 88%.
  • Cervical cap. Efficiency ranges from 71 to 86% (no statistics are available for ideal use).
  • Male condoms. Ideal use is about 98%, typical use is 85%.
  • Female condoms. Ideal use is 95%, typical use is 79%.
  • Fertility Awareness Method. Ideal use is from 95 to 98%, typical is from 76 to 88%.
  • The method of lactational amenorrhea. 98 percent effective when used perfectly.
  • Interruption of sexual intercourse. Ideal use -96%, typical use -78%.
  • Tubal ligation. 99% effective.
  • Vasectomy 99% effective.
  • Abstinence. 100 percent efficiency.

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