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Failure Rates of Various Contraceptives

The data below has been obtained from a variety of sources, including manufacturers’ studies, FDA data, and independent studies. When possible we have limited data to well done studies, but on fairly new methods the data is often limited. A failure rate of 5% indicates that 5 women will become pregnant for each 100 women using the method for one year. In many places a range rather than a single number appears – this represents the range of failure rates from well done studies.

Typical use, or user failure rate, is the actual failure rate from studies of each method. In most cases the majority of these failures are due to not using the method each time, or not using it properly.

Perfect use, or method failure rate, is the failure rate that can be expected if the method is used properly and consistently. For some methods there is a significant difference between the typical use and method failure rates.

If you learn all you can about your contraceptive method, and use it every time, you can expect to be near to the method failure rate. It should be noted that failure rates are averages of many users, and usually do not reflect the average married user’s failure rates. Young women have much higher failure rates for all methods, and married women tend to have lower failure rates than unmarried women. Also realize that more frequent sex during fertile times means a greater chance of failure – if you have sex three times during each fertile period, you have three times as many chances for a failure as a couple that only has sex once each fertile period.

Method
Typical use
Perfect use
(user failure rate)
(method failure rate)
Hormonal
Combined oral contraceptive pill
1% – 2%
.1%
Progesterone-only contraceptive pill
2% – 5%
.5%
Combined Injectable Contraceptives
.1% – .4%
.1%
Depo-Provera
.3% – 3%
.3%
Lunelle
.1% – 3%
.5%
Norplant (discontinued)
.2% – 1.1%
N/A
Norplant 2
.03% – .1%
0.05%
Implanon
.06% – .1%
0.06%
Ortho-Evra patch
.8% – 1.3%
0.70%
NuvaRing
.65% – 8%
0.30%
IUD
Progestasert IUD
2%
Copper T IUD
.8%
0.60%
Mirena IUD
.5% to 1.1%
0.20%
Diaphragm etc.
Diaphragm (plus spermicide)
16% – 17%
6%
Lea’s Shield (plus spermicide)
15% – 18%
8%
Ovès
N/A
4% – per manufacture
Caps (plus spermicide)
Prentif Cavity Rim Cervical Cap
has had a vaginal birth
30% – 32%
26%
has NOT had a vaginal birth
15% – 16%
6.4%
FemCap
has had a vaginal birth
29% – 40%
N/A
has NOT had a vaginal birth
10% – 20%
N/A
Method
Typical use
Perfect use
(user failure rate)
(method failure rate)
Condoms
Female condom
21%
5%
Male condom
6% – 15%
2%
Sponges
Today Sponge
has had a vaginal birth
27% – 40%
20%
has NOT had a vaginal birth
14% – 20%
9%
Pharmatex sponge
19%
N/A
Protectaid sponge
23%
N/A
Sterilization
Tubal ligation (female)
.5%
.5%
Essure (female)
less than 1%
N/A
Vasectomy (male)
0.15%
.1%
NFP
Ovulation Method
22% – 25%
3%
Sympto-Thermal
13% – 25%
2.5%
Calendar Method
13% – 25%
5%
Lactation (LAM)
6%
.5%
Other
Spermicide alone
20% – 29%
15%
Withdrawal
27%
4%

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