How Effective is Birth Control?


For sexually active women, the effectiveness of birth control depends on how perfectly they use it. For this reason, there are two kinds of effectiveness rates. One measurement is for perfect use, as the method is tested in the lab or used in real life with no mistakes. The other is typical use, the average including people who don’t always use the method correctly or every time sexual intercourse takes place.

Both levels of effectiveness are shown below for each contraception method.

Birth Control Methods Perfect Use Typical Use
Intrauterine Device (IUD) 99% 98-99%
Depo-Provera (“the Shot”) 99.7% 97%
Birth Control Combination Pill (“the Pill”) 99.7% 92%
Ortho Evra (“the Patch”) 99.7% 92%
NuvaRing (“the Ring”) 99.7% 92%
Extended Cycle Pills 99.7% 92%
Mini-Pill (Progestin-only) 99.5% 87%
Male Condom 98% 85%
Female Condom 95% 79%
Pull Out (Coitus Interruptus) 96% 73%
Diaphragm 94% 84%
Sponge 91% 84%
Cervical Cap 86% 71%
Spermicides (used alone) 82% 71%

*Abstinence is the only birth control method that is 100% effective.

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