By Dawn Stacey, M.Ed., LMHC, About.com Contraception Guide
(Reprinted with her permission)
Question: What Leads to Contraception Failure?
Unintended pregnancy is a significant concern affecting thousands of people each year. According to a study published in Family Planning Perspectives, 50% of all the pregnancies in the United States were unintended; this includes those conceptions that resulted in abortions, miscarriages or live births. Surprisingly, half of the women faced with these unplanned pregnancies were using contraception during the month that they conceived. Because of these high numbers, it is vital that we know the main reasons for contraception failure as well as some of the risk factors associated with it.
Answer: Contraceptive Failure Varies by Method.
Your contraceptive method of choice greatly impacts your ability to avoid an intended pregnancy. Contraceptive failure can result from a natural malfunction of the birth control method itself. Research has shown that the use of longer acting methods, which require less for the individual to do, tend to help minimize the chances for user error. These methods (like Depo Provera injections, Implanon implants, ParaGard and Mirena IUDs and sterilization) result in the lowest "typical user" rate of contraceptive failure.
When comparing contraceptive effectiveness,
• "Typical use" refers to failure rates for women who do not consistently or always correctly use their birth control.
• "Perfect use" refers to failure rates for those whose use is consistent and always correct.
Demographics Play a Role in Contraceptive Failure
• 17% of unmarried, cohabiting women experienced contraceptive failure during the first year of contraceptive use.
•16% of adolescents (aged 19 or under) and 13% of women aged 20 - 24 experienced birth control failure during the first year of use.
•Contraception failure rates are higher for low-income women.
•Those with incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level are almost two times more likely to experience birth control failure than their higher income counterparts.
Some contraceptive methods are more prone to failure than others. Discover ways to decrease the chances of your contraception failing you.
For the rest of Dawn's reprints:
- Tips for Contraceptive Success (introduction to the series)
- What Leads to Contraceptive Failure?
- How To Prevent Condom Failure
- How To Respond to Men's Excuses for Not Wanting to Wear a Condom
- How To Prevent Diaphragm Failure
- How To Decrease Failure with the Fertility Awareness Method
- How To Prevent Oral Contraceptive Failure
- Medications and Inhibitors that Lower Hormonal Contraception Effectiveness
- How to Prevent IUD Failure
To learn more about contraception, please visit Dawn's work on About.com.
Or you can consult the Nonviolent Choice Directory's extensive Pregnancy Prevention resources. The Nonviolent Choice Directory also sells nonprescription family planning and safer sex items through our website.