How Good Is Birth Control At Preventing Pregnancy

Cancer Protection And The Pill

Natural Ways To Prevent Pregnancy | Birth Control 101

Research suggests that birth control pills can lower the risk of ovarian cancer by 27% and the risk of endometrial cancer by 50% compared to other types of contraceptives.

Protection against developing these cancers can last up to 30 years after stopping combination birth control pills. Plus, protection increases with each year of use. If you use combination pills for six years, your risk of ovarian or endometrial cancer will be lowered by up to 60%.

Studies also show that women who take the pill are 15% to 20% less likely to get colorectal cancer.

While research has shown that taking birth control pills may reduce the risk of some cancers, it can slightly increase the risk of developing breast cancer.

Typical And Perfect Use: Implant And Iuds

The implant and intrauterine devices have almost exactly the same perfect-use and typical-use rates . Thatâs because once theyâre placed by a healthcare provider they donât require constant visits to the pharmacy or daily reminders.

For the implant and all types of intrauterine devices , less than 1 couple out of 100 will get pregnant in 1 year during the year following insertion . This is true for both typical users and perfect users. The effectiveness of these methods, particularly the IUD, decrease slightly over time, but still remain very high .

Those Sugar Pills At The End Of A Birth Control Pack They Have Active Ingredients

Lots of birth control packs have four weeks of pills: three weeks of pills that prevent pregnancy and one week of pills that are inactive.

Women can safely skip that last week of pills and still prevent pregnancy, Cullins said. But that doesn’t mean the last week’s pills are just sugar pills. As it turns out, some of them actually have active ingredients to make the pills work better or aid in women’s health.

“Some of the pills might have low-dose estrogen for three to four days, to help prevent breakthrough bleeding ,” she said. “Others sometimes contain iron or folic acid or other vitamins. And the hard part about skipping the pills is that you have to remember exactly when to start back up.”

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Reversible Methods Of Birth Control

Intrauterine Contraception

Levonorgestrel intrauterine system The LNG IUD is a small T-shaped device like the Copper T IUD. It is placed inside the uterus by a doctor. It releases a small amount of progestin each day to keep you from getting pregnant. The LNG IUD stays in your uterus for up to 3 to 6 years, depending on the device. Typical use failure rate: 0.1-0.4%.1

Copper T intrauterine device This IUD is a small device that is shaped in the form of a T. Your doctor places it inside the uterus to prevent pregnancy. It can stay in your uterus for up to 10 years. Typical use failure rate: 0.8%.1

Hormonal Methods

ImplantThe implant is a single, thin rod that is inserted under the skin of a womens upper arm. The rod contains a progestin that is released into the body over 3 years. Typical use failure rate: 0.1%.1

Injection or shotWomen get shots of the hormone progestin in the buttocks or arm every three months from their doctor. Typical use failure rate: 4%.1

Combined oral contraceptivesAlso called the pill, combined oral contraceptives contain the hormones estrogen and progestin. It is prescribed by a doctor. A pill is taken at the same time each day. If you are older than 35 years and smoke, have a history of blood clots or breast cancer, your doctor may advise you not to take the pill. Typical use failure rate: 7%.1

Barrier Methods

Fertility Awareness-Based Methods

Lactational Amenorrhea Method

Emergency Contraception

Permanent Methods of Birth Control

What Is The Best Birth Control Pill For Pcos

The Birth Control Patch vs. The Pill: Which is Best For ...

The treatment for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is focused on your individual concerns, such as infertility, acne, or obesity. Doctors recommend birth control pills to regulate your periods and help with concerns like acne and excess facial growth.

In general, doctors recommend a brand of combination birth control pills for treating the symptoms of PCOS. There are many combination birth control pill brands to choose from, and you can ask your doctor which one is right for you.

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Is It Ok To Take Other Drugs While Taking Birth Control Pills

Some drugs, including antibiotics and anti-seizure meds, can make birth control pills less effective. Some herbal supplements like St. Johnâs wort and some drugs used to treat HIV can also affect how well your pills work.

Tell your doctor about all medications, over-the-counter agents, herbs, and recreational drugs that you take. They can tell you about any possible effects on the pill.

Spot On Period Tracker

Spot On is a period and birth control tracking mobile app available for Android and iOS phones that can help you stay on top of your birth control method and track your cycle. The app provides customized appointment reminders, and puts birth control and sexual health resources from the experts at Planned Parenthood at your fingertips.

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Lower Your Risk Of Some Cancers

Taking birth control pills can raise your odds of getting some cancers but lower the chance youâll get others. Women who have taken birth control have a 30% to 50% lower risk of ovarian cancer than women who have never taken the pill. The longer you take it, the less likely you are to get this type of cancer. The lower risk lasts up to 30 years after you stop taking the pill.

Women who have taken birth control pills also have a lower risk of endometrial cancer than those who havenât. It lowers your odds of getting this type of cancer by at least 30%. The longer you take the pill, the more your risk goes down. This benefit also lasts for many years after you stop taking the pill. Growing evidence also suggests the pill may lower your risk of developing colorectal cancer while you take it.

What Are The Side Effects And Risks Of Spermicides And Contraceptive Gels

Birth control options reduces abortion rates and unwanted pregnancies

Just like how hormonal forms of birth control have side effects, so do spermicides and contraceptive gels:

  • Vaginal irritation
  • Allergic reaction
  • Serious side effects may include bladder infection, acute kidney infection, and allergic reactions
  • Sexual partners with penises may also have some discomfort

The most commonly reported complaint among spermicide users is genital discomfort and irritation . Some people may view this as no biggie, while to others, this may be a really undesirable side effect. Because makers of spermicides dont need to provide as much documentation as do makers of prescription products, we dont have great stats on the actual percentage of people experiencing different side effects while using spermicides.

Based on data included in Phexxis application for FDA approval, about 18% of users reported a vaginal burning sensation, and about 9% reported getting a urinary tract infection . That being said, very few of the people who dropped out of the trial dropped out because of these side effects, meaning they are likely mild or tolerable for most users. Like most other contraceptives other than condoms, Phexxi does not protect against STIs. Theres currently no data on whether it increases your chances of getting HIV or other STIs.

There are two additional considerations that are important to call out for spermicide and contraceptive gels:

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What Is The Best Birth Control Pill For Teens

Out of the two types of birth control pills , it’s more common for teens to take a combined birth control pill. The American Academy of Pediatrics says the mini-pill is not recommended as the first choice for teens. Combination birth control pills can be a good option for adolescents who can remember to take it every day.

Though the pill is easy to use, there are other methods of birth control that might be even more convenient for young women. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that the IUD and the arm implant should be the first-line choice for young women who are sexually active. These methods could serve teens best, because they’re busy, and unlike the pill, you don’t have to remember to take it every day.

Effectiveness Of Permanent Methods Of Birth Control

We’ve looked at the reversible methods of birth control. But do the permanent methods stack up at preventing pregnancy?

Sterilization surgery for males, also known as a vasectomy, is a procedure where the tubes that carry sperm are cut or sealed. In females, a tubal ligation is a surgery where the fallopian tubes are cut or blocked.

For both female and male sterilization, the chances of getting pregnant after sterilization is less than 1%.

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Effectiveness Of Reversible Birth Control Methods Vs Condoms

Let’s take a look at the different kinds of hormonal birth control and their typical effective rate in protecting against pregnancy.

  • Combined pill: 91% effective

  • Progestin pill : 91% effective

  • Injection: 94% effective

  • Birth control sponge: 76-88% effective

  • Spermicide : 72% effective

So we can see that hormonal birth control methods are more effective at preventing pregnancy than the typical use of male condoms and female condoms .

However, if male condoms are used perfectly every time you have sex, then they are 98% effective at stopping a pregnancy from occurring, placing the condom slightly higher than the contraceptive pill and barrier methods.

Birth Control Or Pulling Out: Which Is More Effective

How Effective Is The Birth Control Pill At Preventing ...

From an effectiveness standpoint, the debate between birth control and pulling out is pretty clear cut. Taking the pill i far more effective than relying on the pull out method as your form of birth control.

Used perfectly, the pill is 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancy, whereas the pull out method is only 96 percent perfect. Under real life circumstances, the pill is even more effective than pulling out, with a 91 percent to 92 percent effectiveness rate compared to the 78 percent success rate from the pull out method.

Simply put, using the birth control pill is a significantly better method of birth control than relying on the pull out method.

However, the most effective way to stop yourself from becoming pregnant is to practice both the pull out method and use birth control. By taking the pill and asking your partner to pull out before ejaculating, youll reduce your risk of becoming pregnant to almost zero.

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How Effective Are Spermicides And Contraceptive Gels At Preventing Pregnancy

Let’s talk about the effectiveness of these two non-hormonal forms of birth control:

  • Spermicide: If used completely perfectly, about 18 out of every 100 spermicide users will get pregnant per year. But because humans arent perfect and spermicides arent always used completely perfectly, the real-world stats on this look different: about 28 out of every 100 spermicide users will get pregnant per year, based on average use patterns.
  • Phexxi: Phexxi is comparatively more effective than spermicides at preventing pregnancy. If used completely perfectly, about 7 in every 100 Phexxi users will get pregnant per year. Based on typical use , 14 out of every 100 Phexxi users will get pregnant per year.
  • How do these rates compare to other types? Some currently available birth control options are remarkably good at preventing pregnancy. For example, the perfect use failure rate for the copper IUD is < 1%. Put another way, fewer than 1 out of every 100 copper IUD users will get pregnant per year which is about on par with things like getting your tubes permanently blocked .

Is One Pill More Effective Than Another

In general, all birth control brands are found to be an incredibly effective method of pregnancy prevention. The pill has a very low failure rate, meaning it is successful at preventing pregnancy. Specifically it works around 95-99% of the time, when taken at the same time every day, as your doctor directs. The American Journal of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states that with typical use, both the combined pill and mini pill are 91% effective in preventing pregnancy.

The effectiveness drops if you skip, miss, or switch the times when you take pills. For example, if you are on the pill but miss more than 3 pills that month, you should use emergency contraception if you have unprotected sex.

If you know taking a pill every day is going to be a struggle, you may want to consider using a different method of contraception. For some women, an IUD, shot, arm implant,vaginal ring, or patch could work better with their lifestyle. If you want to know more about the specifics, ask your doctor.

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Does Birth Control Replace Condoms

Birth control pills are oral contraceptives that are taken every day at the same time to prevent pregnancy. There are two types of birth control pills: combined pills that contain the hormones estrogen and progestin, and the mini-pill which contains progestin only.

The hormones in the birth control pills stop pregnancy by:

  • Preventing ovulation: Blocking the egg from being released from the ovary

  • Thickening the cervical mucus to make it harder for sperm to swim into the uterus and

  • Thinning the uterine lining so if an egg was fertilized, it would be less likely to attach to the uterus

Other types of hormonal contraceptives include:

  • Implant: contains progestin

  • Injection, such as Depo-Provera: contains progestin

  • Contraceptive patch: contains estrogen and progestin

  • Vaginal ring, such as NuvaRing: contains estrogen and progestin

  • Intrauterine Device : contains progestin

You’ll need to get a prescription before you’re able to take birth control pills. With your prescription you can collect your pills from a drug store, telemedicine provider, and health clinics such as Planned Parenthood.

Birth control pills are an effective way of lowering your chances of getting pregnant if you have sex. But they do not protect against STI’s. Condoms are the main form of birth control to prevent STI’s being passed on to a sexual partner.

The Pill Has Health Benefits

Natural Birth Control Options – Prevent Pregnancy Naturally

Side effects arent always a bad thing, and birth control pills arent just for birth control. The pill has many perks besides pregnancy prevention.

Both combination and progestin-only pills reduce menstrual cramps, lighten periods, and lower your risk of ectopic pregnancy.

The combination pill can also help prevent or lessen:

  • acne

You can keep track of any potential side effects with our birth control app.

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We Don’t Know Whether Most Antibiotics Make Birth Control Less Effective

There are two antibiotics that researchers have found make birth control pills less effective: griseofulvin, an antifungal used to treat athlete’s foot and ringworm, and rifampicin, which is typically used to treat tuberculosis.

The reason that happens is that these drugs speed up the liver’s metabolism, which makes the liver metabolize the hormones in the birth control faster. As a result, hormones leave the blood stream faster and are unable to adequately affect the ovaries to prevent ovulation or the cervix to prevent thickening of the cervical mucus.

Lots of antibiotics, not just the two listed above, come with warnings that they’ll make birth control ineffective and suggest using a backup method of contraception. While a backup method is never a bad idea, there’s actually sparse evidence that these other drugs make birth control less effective. “Uncertainty persists with respect to the other broad-spectrum antibiotics,” researchers in the journal Contraceptionwrote in a review article about interactions between birth control and antibiotics. They argue that in light of that uncertainty, it is completely appropriate for women to use a backup method but not to ditch their antibiotics out of concern over interactions.

How The Pill Prevents Pregnancy

Traditional hormonal birth control pills contain artificial versions of the sex hormones estrogen and progestin.

The body naturally produces versions of these two hormones called estrogen and progesterone which help regulate a woman’s menstrual cycle and ability to get pregnant.

The birth control pill works by essentially tricking the body into thinking it’s pregnant. When a sperm fertilizes an egg, the woman’s estrogen and progesterone levels change to prevent future ovulation. Birth control pills work in the same way.

No ovulation means no egg to fertilize and no accidental pregnancy. However, sometimes an egg can still develop and reach the uterus, especially if you miss a dose. If this happens, the birth control pill can still prevent fertilization in two ways:

  • Thickening of the cervical mucus. The cervix is the part of the uterus that connects to the vagina and serves as a pathway for sperm to reach the uterus where it can fertilize an egg. So by thickening the mucus in the cervix, the pill’s hormones make it more difficult for sperm to reach the uterus in the first place.
  • Thinning of the uterine lining. After an egg is fertilized, the next step in pregnancy is implantation, where the egg attaches to the uterine wall. However, if the uterine lining is too thin, the egg won’t attach and the pregnancy will not progress.
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    What Are Alternatives To The Pill

    If youre not confident you can remember to take a daily pill, talk to your healthcare provider about these other birth control options:

    • Etonogestrel implant .
    • Depo-Provera® progestin injection .

    A note from Cleveland Clinic

    The birth control pill is a highly effective way to prevent pregnancy when you take it consistently every day. The pill can also lower your risk of certain problems, such as uterine and ovarian cancers, migraines, and acne. Some women experience medication side effects like nausea, though this is usually temporary. You may need to try several different brands of the pill before finding the one that works best for you. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have questions or concerns about the pill.

    Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/21/2020.


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