If you’re hoping to not get pregnant once you become sexually active, it’s perfectly normal and responsible to look for the safest and most effective type of birth control that works with you and your lifestyle. There are a lot of different factors that go into birth control safety and effectiveness, however, so your gynecologist can discuss your options. In the meantime, here’s what to know about birth control effectiveness and what to look for.
How is birth control effectiveness measured?
Birth control effectiveness is usually measured in a percentage which refers to how many women become pregnant during the year using that method. For example, if 100 women use the pill for one year and 8 of them still become pregnant, that method is 92% effective. Along with this, birth control methods usually distinguish between perfect use and regular use. Perfect use means that you use it exactly as intended every time you have sex and use no conflicting medications, whereas regular use means that sometimes you forget to use it, accidentally use it incorrectly or use a medication that limits the pill’s effectiveness. Since this reflects real life more than perfect use, it’s better to look at the rate of effectiveness for regular use.
What are the safest and most effective birth control methods?
If you’re looking for the safest and most effective birth control methods, then there are some options that result in one or fewer pregnancies out of 100 people who use it. These methods include long-term or permanent options like the DepoProvera shot, Nexplanon, IUD, or male and female sterilization. If you’re not planning on becoming pregnant, then these can be extremely effective options, especially since you don’t need to worry about them after they’re in place.
Some middle-of-the-road options offer a good balance between effectiveness and flexibility if you do want to get pregnant soon. These result in between 6 and 12 women out of 100 getting pregnant each year and usually include options like the, the pill and the NuvaRing . These usually require more steps to take in order to make sure you’re protected, but can be a good option if you’re not comfortable with a long-term or permanent method.
Finally, some of the least effective birth control methods result in 18 or more women out of 100 becoming pregnant in a year when used as a sole method of birth control. These include male and female condoms, the diaphragm, withdrawal techniques, sponges, spermicides, and fertility awareness methods.
Each woman will have different needs when it comes to birth control, so it can be helpful to start by assessing how effective you want your birth control to be. If you want the most protection available, consider a long-term option paired with a method that you use every time you have sex, like condoms. If you want more freedom concerning when you get pregnant, then intermediate options like the pill or NuvaRing can be great options. You can also pair these with condoms for extra protection. There are a lot of options available, so your gynecologist can help you find the right birth control plan for you and your partner based on your goals and preferences.
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There are more options available than ever when it comes to the birth control method that’s safest and most effective for you. To get started and learn more, we invite you to meet with our award-winning team of gynecologists by calling or filling out our online form.