The lactational amenorrhea method (LAM) requires some action every four to six hours.
Oral contraceptives and periodic abstinence methods require some action every day. Other hormonal methods require less frequent action - weekly for the patch, twice a month for vaginal ring, monthly for combined injectable contraceptive, and every twelve weeks for the injection Depo-Provera.
Implants are good for several years. Intrauterine methods require clinic visits for removal and replacement (if desired) only once every few years (5-10, depending on the device). Sterilization is a one-time, permanent procedure - after the success of surgery is verified, no action is usually required of users.
The less effective the method, the greater the risk of the side-effects associated with pregnancy.
Minimal or no other side effects are possible with coitus interruptus, periodic abstinence, and LAM. Some forms of periodic abstinence encourage examination of the cervix; insertion of the fingers into the vagina to perform this examination may cause changes in the vaginal environment. Following the rules for LAM may delay a woman's first post-partum menstruation beyond what would be expected from different breastfeeding practices.
Barrier methods have a risk of allergic reaction. Users sensitive to latex may use barriers made of less allergenic materials - polyurethane condoms, or silicone diaphragms, for example. Barrier methods are also often combined with spermicides, which have possible side effects of genital irritation, vaginal infection, and urinary tract infection.
Sterilization procedures are generally considered to have low risk of side effects, though some persons and organizations disagree.
After IUD insertion, menstrual periods are often heavier, more painful, or both - especially for the first few months after they are inserted.
Because of their systemic nature, hormonal methods have the largest number of possible side effects.
Actual failure rates are higher than perfect-use rates for a variety of reasons:
For instance, someone using oral forms of hormonal birth control might be given incorrect information by a health care provider as to the frequency of intake, or by mistake not take the pill one day, or simply not bother to go to the pharmacy on time to renew the prescription, or the pharmacy might be unwilling to provide enough pills to cover an extended absence.
Many hormonal methods of birth control, and LAM require a moderate level of thoughtfulness. For many hormonal methods, clinic visits must be made every three months to a year to renew the prescription. The pill must be taken every day, the patch must be reapplied weekly, or the ring must be replaced monthly. Injections are required every few months. The rules for LAM must be followed every day. Both LAM and hormonal methods provide a reduced level of protection against pregnancy if they are occasionally used incorrectly (rarely going longer than 4-6 hours between breastfeeds, a late pill or injection, or forgetting to replace a patch or ring on time). The actual failure rates for LAM and hormonal methods are somewhat higher than the perfect-use failure rates.
Higher levels of user commitment are required for other methods. Barrier methods, coitus interruptus, and spermicides must be used at every act of intercourse. They do not provide any protection from pregnancy if they are not used. Periodic abstinence methods require daily tracking of the menstrual cycle. They also do not provide any protection from pregnancy if incorrectly used. The actual failure rates for these methods are much higher than the perfect-use failure rates.
|Blue||under 1%||lower risk|
|Green||up to 5%|
|Yellow||up to 10%|
|Orange||up to 20%|
|Red||over 20%||higher risk|
|Grey||no data||no data available|
In User action required column, items that are non-user dependent (require action once/year or less) also have a blue background.
Some methods may be combined for higher effectiveness rates. For example, simultaneously using both the male condom and spermicide (applied separately, not pre-lubricated) is believed to reduce perfect-use pregnancy rates to those seen among implant users.
If a method is known to have been ineffective (such as a condom breaking), emergency contraception may be taken up to 120 hours after sexual intercourse. Emergency contraception should be taken as soon after intercourse as possible, as its efficacy decreases with increasing delay.
|Birth control method||Brand/common name||Typical-use failure rate (%)||Perfect-use failure rate (%)||Type||Implementation||User action required|
|Implanon (medium-dose)||Progestogen||Subdermal implant|
|Jadelle (lower-dose)||Progestogen||Subdermal implant|
|Vasectomy||"male sterilization"||Sterilization||Surgical procedure|
|Combined injectable||Lunelle, Cyclofem||Estrogen + progestogen||Injection|
|Tubal ligation||"female sterilization"||Sterilization||Surgical procedure|
|Copper intrauterine device||Paragard||Copper||Intrauterine|
|LAM for 6 months only; not applicable if menstruation resumes||"ecological breastfeeding"||Behavioral||Breastfeeding|
|Depo Provera||"the shot"||Progestogen||Injection|
|Lea's Shield and spermicide used by nulliparous||Barrier + spermicide||Vaginal insertion|
|Combined oral contraceptive pill||"the Pill"||Estrogen + progestogen||Oral medication|
|Contraceptive patch||Ortho Evra, "the patch"||Estrogen + progestogen||Transdermal patch|
|NuvaRing||"the ring"||Estrogen + progestogen||Vaginal insertion|
|Progestogen only pill||"POP", "minipill"||Progestogen||Oral medication|
|Male latex condom||Barrier||Placed on erect penis|
|Lea's Shield and spermicide used by parous||Barrier + spermicide||Vaginal insertion|
|Diaphragm and spermicide||Barrier + spermicide||Vaginal insertion|
|Prentif cervical cap and spermicide used by nulliparous||Barrier + spermicide||Vaginal insertion|
|Today contraceptive sponge used by nulliparous||"the sponge"||Barrier + spermicide||Vaginal insertion|
|Female condom||Barrier||Vaginal insertion|
|Symptoms-based fertility awareness||basal body temperature, cervical mucus||Behavioral||Observation and charting|
|Standard Days Method||Behavioral||Calendar-based|
|Knaus-Ogino method||"the rhythm method"||Behavioral||Calendar-based|
|Coitus interruptus||"withdrawal method"||Behavioral||Withdrawal|
|Spermicidal gel, foam, suppository, or film||Spermicide||Vaginal insertion|
|Today contraceptive sponge used by parous||"the sponge"||Barrier + spermicide||Vaginal insertion|
|Prentif cervical cap and spermicide used by parous||Barrier + spermicide||Vaginal insertion|
|None (unprotected intercourse)|
|Birth control method||Brand/common name||Typical-use failure rate (%)||Perfect-use failure rate (%)||Type||Delivery||User action required|
All other methods:Trussell, James (2007). Contraceptive Technology. 19th rev. ed., New York: Ardent Media. ISBN 0-9664902-0-7.