The effectiveness of birth control methods is critically important for reducing the risk of unintended pregnancy. Effectiveness can be measured during “perfect use,” when the method is used correctly and consistently as directed, or during “typical use,” which is how effective the method is during actual use (including inconsistent and incorrect use).
The best way to reduce the risk of unintended pregnancy among women who are sexually active is to use effective birth control correctly and consistently. Among reversible methods of birth control, intrauterine contraception and the contraceptive implant remain highly effective for years once correctly in place. The effectiveness of the contraceptive shot, pills, patch and ring, and barrier and fertility awareness-based methods, depends on correct and consistent use—so these methods have lower effectiveness with typical use.
For each method of birth control, effectiveness with typical use is provided below. We present this as the percent of women who experience an unintended pregnancy within the first year of typical use (also known as the failure rate).
"HAND-FREE" (Do not need to do something daily or with each act of sex)
IMPROVES HEAVY MENSTRUAL BLEEDING