Effectiveness of Contraception and Risks and Side Effects

In choosing a birth control method, it’s important to look at all the facts: your overall health, frequency of sexual activity, number of sexual partners, desire to have children at some point, how well each method works,[1.CDC.Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/UnintendedPregnancy/PDF/Contraceptive_methods_508.pdf] your comfort level in using the method, risk of side effects, belief system, and communication with your partner(s).

When looking at rate failure (or effectiveness), keep in mind that there can sometimes be a big difference in numbers due to “failure rate with perfect use” and “failure rate with typical use.” [1.“Contraception,” Julie Quinn, MD; CME Resource/Net CE; 2013]

Sterilization (female)

  • Less than 1% failure rate[1.FDA Office of Women’s Health.Retrieved from http://www.fda.gov/downloads/ForConsumers/ByAudience/ForWomen/FreePublications/UCM356451.pdf]
  • Risks/SEs: bleeding, pain, infection or complications after surgery; ectopic (tubal) pregnancy

Sterilization (male)

  • Less than 1% failure rate
  • Risks/SEs: infection, bleeding, pain

Implant/IUD

  • Less than 1% failure rate when inserted correctly[1.IMPLANON® (etonogestrel implant) 68 mg – How it works. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.implanon-usa.com/en/consumer/about-it/how-it-works/index.xhtml][1.ParaGard.Retrieved from http://paragard.com/Pdf/ParaGard_full_brochure.pdf]
  • Risks/SEs: changes in bleeding patterns; breast, abdominal, pelvic, back pain; damage to the uterus; weight gain; ovarian cysts; acne; mood swings; headache; fatigue; cramping; nausea;
  • increased vaginal discharge

Depo-Provera Shot

  • Approximately 6% failure rate with typical use
  • Risks/SEs: bone loss; bleeding in between periods and irregular periods; breast tenderness; cramping; increased vaginal discharge; skin color changes; weight gain

Oral contraceptive pills (OCPs)[1. Drugs.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.drugs.com/search.php?searchterm=]

  • Approximately 9% failure rate with typical use
  • Risks/SEs: breast tenderness, headache, nausea; light periods; spotting between periods; weight gain; breast swelling and/or tenderness; nausea; mood swings; rare side effects include chest pain, increased blood pressure, blood clots, stroke, heart attack

Diaphragm

  • 12-16% failure rate with typical use[1.

    Mirena® | How Does It Work. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.mirena-us.com/about-mirena/how-mirena-works.php]

  • Risks/SEs: allergic reaction; irritation to the lining of the vaginal canal; toxic shock syndrome if left in more than 24 hours

Spermicide

  • Up to 29% failure rate with typical use
  • Risks/SEs: allergic reaction; irritation to the lining of the vaginal canal

Condom (female)

  • 21-27% failure rate with typical use
  • Risks/SEs: allergic reaction; irritation to skin

Condom (male)

  • Approximately 18% failure rate with typical use
  • Risks/SEs: allergic reaction