Some birth control methods work better than others. The chart on the following page compares how well different birth control methods work.
The most effective way to prevent pregnancy is abstinence. However, within the first year of committing to abstinence, many couples become pregnant because they have sex anyway but don't use protection. So it's a good idea even for people who don't plan to have sex to be informed about birth control.
Couples who do have sex need to use birth control properly and every time to prevent pregnancy. For example, the chart below shows that the birth control pill can be effective in preventing pregnancy. But if a girl forgets to take her birth control pills, then this is not an effective method for her. Condoms can be an effective way to prevent pregnancy, too. But if a guy forgets to use a condom or doesn't use it correctly, then it's not an effective way for him to prevent pregnancy.
For every 100 couples using each type of birth control, the chart shows how many of these couples will get pregnant within a year. The information shown is for all couples, not just teenage couples. Some birth control methods may be less effective for teen users. For example, teenage girls who use fertility awareness (also called the rhythm method) may have an even greater chance of getting pregnant than adult women because their bodies have not yet settled into a regular menstrual cycle.
We list the effectiveness of different birth control methods based on their typical use rates. Typical use refers to how the average person uses that method of birth control (compared to "perfect" use, which means no mistakes are made in using that method).
In addition to preventing pregnancy, abstinence and condoms provide some protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). However, most other birth control methods do not provide much protection against STDs, so condoms should also be used.
|Method of Birth Control||How Many Couples Using This Method Will Get Pregnant in a Year?||How Well Does This Method Work in Preventing Pregnancy?||Can This Method Also Protect Against STDs?|
|Consistent Abstinence||None||Completely effective||Yes|
|Birth Control Patch ("The Patch")||8 out of 100||Effective||No|
|Birth Control Pill ("The Pill")||8 out of 100||Effective||No|
|Birth Control Ring ("The Ring")||8 out of 100||Effective||No|
|Female Condom||21 out of 100||Less effective||Yes|
|Male Condom||18 out of 100||Moderately effective||Yes|
|Birth Control Shot||3 out of 100||Effective||No|
|Diaphragm||16 out of 100||Moderately effective||No|
|Emergency Contraception||1 to 2 out of 100||Very effective||No|
|IUD||Fewer than 1 out of 100||Very effective||No|
|Fertility Awareness||25 out of 100||Less effective||No|
|Spermicide||29 out of 100||Less effective||No|
|Withdrawal ("Pulling Out")||27 out of 100||Less effective||No|
|Not Using Any Birth Control||85 out of 100||Not effective||No|
Choosing a birth control method based on how well it works is important, but there are other things to keep in mind when choosing a form of birth control. These include:
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: August 2013
|Planned Parenthood Info for Teens This site from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America has information on relationships and sexual health for teens.|
|The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network Call: (800) 656-HOPE|
|American Social Health Association This nonprofit organization is dedicated to preventing sexually transmitted diseases and offers hotlines for prevention and control of STDs.|
|National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy This site provides teen pregnancy facts, resources, and prevention tips.|
|Planned Parenthood Federation of America Planned Parenthood offers information on sexually transmitted diseases, birth control methods, and other issues of sexual health.|
|American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) This site offers information on numerous health issues. The women's health section includes readings on pregnancy, labor, delivery, postpartum care, breast health, menopause, contraception, and more.|
|Male Reproductive System What makes up a guy's reproductive system and how does it develop? Can anything go wrong? Find the answers to these questions and more in this article.|
|Can a Girl Get Pregnant if She Has Sex During Her Period? Find out what the experts have to say.|
|Female Reproductive System Why do girls get periods? What goes on when a girl gets pregnant? What can go wrong with the female reproductive system? Find the answers to these questions and more in this article.|
|About Birth Control Before you consider having sex, you need to know how to protect yourself. Read this article to get the basics on birth control.|
|Talking to Your Partner About Condoms Some people - even those who are having sex - are embarrassed by the topic of condoms. Here are some tips for talking about condoms with your partner.|
|Gyn Checkups Girls should get their first gynecological checkup between ages 13 and 15. Find out what happens during a yearly gyn visit -- and why most girls don't get internal exams.|
|Virginity: A Very Personal Decision Deciding whether it's right for you to have sex is one of the most important decisions you'll ever have to make. Each person must use his or her own judgment and decide if it's the right time - and the right person.|
|About Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) You've probably heard lots of discouraging news about sexually transmitted diseases. The good news is that STDs can be prevented. Find out how to protect yourself.|
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