Are you really using the most effective contraceptive?

Most effective contraceptiveCC: GabiSanda at Pixabay

In today’s world it’s easy to argue that we’ve never had so much choice when it comes to contraceptives. Whether you prefer taking a pill everyday, slapping on a patch, or renewing yours every five years, there’s something out there for you. Unfortunately, figuring out which is the most effective contraceptive isn’t straight forward.

Patient information leaflets and packaging usually advertise how effective a contraceptive is in laboratory conditions. As you probably already know, life is rarely like a laboratory. If you’re keen to minimize your chances of falling pregnant, now’s the time to find out which one works best for you.

Contraceptive pills and condoms are subject to human error

Are you a big fan of Microgynon? If so, I can certainly see why. It’s an excellent means of controlling your periods and PMS. If you’re in the habit of executing good self-control, it certainly comes with its advantages.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, around 22.5-percent of women at risk of falling pregnant in the United States use a contraceptive pill. Such pills can include Microgynon, the progesterone-only pill, and other less popular choices. While the pill’s manufacturers confidently boast that one-in-100 women will fall pregnant while using them, this doesn’t factor in human error. The Association for Reproductive Health Professionals (ARHP) estimates that 9-percent of women will fall pregnant with ‘typical use’. Similarly, while condom manufacturers claim only 2-percent of women will fall pregnant, the ARHP reports that 18-percent do with typical use.


But, what is typical use? In a nutshell, typical use accounts for everyday human oversights. As far as the contraceptive pill goes, this can mean something as simple as failing to take a pill. Depending on the type you take, if you don’t ingest yours during a specific 12-hour window each day, you may not be protected. Similarly, if you have diarrhea, your body doesn’t have a chance to absorb it. As for condoms, choosing the wrong size, not putting it on correctly, and ignoring splits are just a few of the mistakes that can result in pregnancy.

The most effective contraceptive is usually the one that lasts the longest

One birth control method that’s rarely considered is the Intra-Uterine Device (IUD). It’s available in a hormonal five-year format and as a copper-based 10-year device. In both instances, your chances of falling pregnant is less than one-percent. Depending on your age, opting for an IUD may be more effective than female sterilization.

Unfortunately, a lot of women are avoiding the most effective contraceptive due to common misconceptions. Some believe it isn’t appropriate if they’re yet to give birth. Others worry about the risk of infection. Although IUDs did carry a higher risk of infection in the seventies, that’s no longer the case. Providing your gynecologist screens you for STDs that could cause an infection prior to inserting your IUD, your risk of developing pelvic inflammatory disease shouldn’t rise.

Making a contraceptive more effective is down to you as a user

Understandably, not everyone relishes the thought of using an IUD. As such, it’s a good idea to look into why your favorite contraceptive method might fail and take steps towards preventing that from happening. Read the patient information leaflet thoroughly and ask your doctor when your contraceptive is most likely to fail and why. If you know you’re prone to forgetting a dose, set an alarm. If you’re relying on condoms because you don’t want to use hormones, think about using a fertility app and ovulation sticks too.

Overall, we’ve never had so much choice when it comes to contraceptives. And at the same time, we’ve never had such open access to information when it comes to our meds. If you can’t confidently say you know your birth control method inside out, now’s the time to do a little more research.

About the Author

Laura McKeever
Laura has been a freelance medical writer for eight years. With a BSc in Medical Sciences and an MSc in Physician Assistant Studies, she complements her passion for medical news with real-life experiences. Laura’s most significant experience included writing for international pharmaceutical brands, including GSK.