How Likely Is It That Birth Control Could Let You Down?


Not exactly sure where to put this, since it’s an infographic, but it’s on the New York Times website, so figured maybe it could go in World News.

It’s an interactive chart about the probabilities of birth control failure, for given periods of use. A lot of people on this forum like to talk about the effectiveness of NFP vs other forms of birth control, so some might find these number fascinating.

If you drag your mouse over the chart, you can see the probability of an unplanned pregnancy given use of a particular type of birth control for 1 year, 2 years, etc., up to 10 years.

Therefore, the numbers on the chart represent the probability that the given birth control method will fail if used for the given time period. They even have different numbers for perfect use vs. typical use.

NFP (ovulation method) had a 96% chance of failure over the course of 10 years with typical use, and a 24% chance of failure over the same period, even when used perfectly.

However, many of the other methods that secular people argue are better than NFP really didn’t fair much better. Male condoms had an 86% chance of failure with typical use. The pill had a 61% chance of failure. Basically, the only methods that almost never failed, even with typical use, were sterilizations and implants (which obviously have a number properties that make them undesirable, even for secular people).


NFP may fail, but it is not an abortifacient like the Pill.


Contraception can let Catholics down in another way. Pope John Paul II once said that using contraception is a barrier to taking communion.
I see you don’t provide a religious affiliation, so perhaps you understandably don’t know about Catholicism’s objection to contraception. However, there is an objection.


Well, I wasn’t Catholic nor did I understand the advantages of NFP at the time, but I got pregnant using an IUD resulting in a lovely son, although it was tough for a while. I know others who became pregnant using just about every one of those methods on the chart, excepting NFP. That includes sterilization.:shrug:


I have always been taught that nothing is 100% foolproof except ABSTINENCE.
No contraceptive method is 100% guaranteed, that’s why it is recommended to use at least two. For example, it is a good idea to use spermicide along with a condom etc.
The type of method you use depends also on what you are trying to prevent:
(a) a pregnancy or (b) a disease.

So to answer your question, birth control can let you down, especially if it is not used correctly. I know that at STD clinics in some third world countries there are classes to show women and men how to use condoms properly for example.

NB. I did not address the morality of using artificial contraceptives, especially since I know (and respect) the catholic view of such practice (even if I do not necessarily agree).


I used to interpret, and sometimes interpreted at a Women’s Center, and I have seen women who were on the Pill who thought it was nearly impossible for them to get pregnant up in the stirrups, very surprised that method failed.

These methods aren’t as effective in preventing pregnancy as they suggest. It’s all very misleading.

So, for before marriage, abstinence, is clearly the method of choice.



Surprising that withdrawal is as effective as it is, relative to the others.


I think is important to note that sterilizations and implants are not more effective in and of themselves. Other forms of contraceptives are less successful mostly because of improper and/or inconsistent use.


The charts in the link I provided say otherwise. They give different numbers for typical use vs. perfect use, and even with perfect use, most still fall short of sterilizations/implants.

Note, please do not take this as an endorsement of sterilizations or implants. Obviously, both of those forms of birth control are horrible things to do to a person’s body. But it’s valuable to know that more typical forms of birth control are often not as reliable as people believe.


I suppose it depends on how well it’s applied.

I have a friend who has been using the withdrawal method for over 20 years, and still has not had a child.


Technically, it’s only 99.999999…% effective :smiley:


Haha. :clapping:


Food for thought for those advocating “safe sex.” If condoms have this sort of failure rate for PREGNANCY prevention over time, I wonder what their failure rate for STD transmission over time are. After all, pregnancy can only happen on about 5 days per cycle at most. STD transmission can occur on ANY day of the month.

Feelin’ “safe” NOW? :wink:

I am!

BTW, I have to question the findings somewhat. We haven’t touched a chart in many years and never had any real trouble achieving pregnancy the two time we were trying or the one time we decided “what the heck.” And yet for 15 years now, no ‘oopsies.’ We simply ID the peak day via mucus and hands off until 3 days afterwards. I can count to three without a chart. I find it hard to believe that all those out there carefully charting, taking temps and all the other stuff are doing worse than we are.


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