Condom, pills, nuva ring
(C) Love Matters | Rita Lino

Birth control: how well does it work?

There are two ways to rate how well birth control methods work. You can say how good they are if people use them perfectly. Or you can look at what happens in real life – because people aren’t usually perfect!
Take the quiz

Why is it ‘typical’ not ‘perfect’?

If you need to remember to do something regularly, like take a pill or stick on a patch, the score for ‘typical use’ is a lot lower than for ‘perfect use’. Typically, people sometimes forget!

And with things like condoms or diaphragms, people sometimes make mistakes putting them on or inserting them.

What does ‘failure rate’ mean?

If 100 women use a birth control method for a year, the number of them who get pregnant anyway is the ‘failure rate’.

For example, if a hundred women use condoms for a year each time they have sex, typically 14 of them will get pregnant. So the failure rate is 14 per cent.

(That’s including all the mistakes – if they used the condoms perfectly, only three of them would probably get pregnant by accident.)

By way of comparison, if 100 women have sex for a year without using birth control, on average 85 of them will get pregnant. So you could say using no birth control has a ‘failure rate’ of 85 per cent.

100 per cent certainty

The only way to be 100 per cent sure to not get you or your partner pregnant is to not have sex and abstain.

Riddle ID

Did you learn something new?

Hi Verah, It maybe useful to discuss with you doctor or health provider to find a method that will work well for you. Also, remember all the methods have a failure rate hence the need to use two methods at a time for instance the pill combined with a condom. Check this article;-
Hi is it advicable to use birth control before have a child eg the injections and coils.
Tue, 09/19/2017 - 05:25 pm

In reply to by Moh.

Hi Moh, Yes you can use birth control at any time before or even after you have children. When you want to have children you simply stop using the birth control method you are on and you should be able to get pregnant.
Hi Emma, There are number of reasons that may lead your periods to delay including sports, change in diet and environment, use of contraceptive or even hormonal imbalances. A missed period could also be an indicator of pregnancy if you had unprotected sex. Give it time to see if they will come. With regard to the abdominal pain, it maybe important to seek medical attention for check up and treatment. Lastly, there is nothing wrong with feeling like having sex as long as it is safe. Check out this article;-
Wed, 11/08/2017 - 10:12 pm
hi..I used injection method that was supposed to last for three months bt since it expired almost two months ago I have been having my periods every day for almost two months now..... what could be the problem.???
Hi, One of the common side effects expected with the shot is change in the menstrual cycle. While one may have irregular bleeding or spotting, bleeding consistently for two months is no normal. You need to visit a health centre as soon as possible.

Hey Liz, One of the side effects of the Coil or the Intrauterine Device (IUD) is mood changes. But this should resolve after a while. It may also be important to think about your relationship and if there is anything else going on that could be affecting your relationship and sex life. Check out this article for more information about the IUD;-

Hello love matters I love this page coz I have learnt alot on how to coupe up in love. But I am single and I need a lady to grow my love life
Love Matters
Fri, 03/16/2018 - 01:33 am

Hi Lucy, I am not able to tell what could be happening but I suggest you visit your health care provider as soon as possible for a closer look and advice.  

Hello I used deposit form of injection in January and since then have not received my monthly period even after stopping on 28th April what could be the problem

Hey Maiyo, do you mean you have been using the Depo-Provera injection for birth control... Many women experience spotting and irregular periods during the first three months of being on Depo. This is therefore oe of the expected side effects of the Depp-Provera. Have a look at the following article for more information;-

Hi Cynthia, there is no test to take before deciding which method to use. Choosing a birth control method maybe an issue of preference for you or for you and your partner. Additionally, there are a few other things you may want to consider before deciding which method to use as follows;-

  • How important is it that you don't get pregnant? Would it be a total disaster if you were pregnant? Or would it be okay, but just not quite the right moment?
  • How well does the birth control method work? What's its failure rate?
  • Could the birth control method have side effects for you or your partner?
  • How soon would you like to have children?

Think about these issues and the discuss your options with your health provider. Check out the following articles for further guidance;-


Hi Joy, one of the disadvantage of using the Shot (Depo-Provera), is that one won’t be able to immediately get pregnant once they stop using; it may take around ten months to get back to ones normal fertility. It may take sometime before you get pregnant, if it however takes longer than one year it will be important to seek the services of a Specialist. Have a look at the following articles for more information;-

Hi Joy, first, all birth control methods other than abstinence have a failure rate. Emergency contraception should be taken within the first 72 hours after having unprotected sex. The longer one waits the less effective it is likely to be. It is most effective, when taken within the first twenty four hours it is 95 per cent. Have a look at the following article for more information;- 

Wed, 04/15/2020 - 08:47 am
Hi Joy I had unprotected sex 4days after my period please can I get pregnant. Period started on 4th April and ended finally on 9 April Thanks.

Hi Cynthia, When your fertile days are really depends on the length of your cycle. Technically speaking, the first seven days before and after your period, as well as the time of your period, are infertile. But, if you have a shorter cycle (25 days or shorter), or an irregular one, this will vary. Also keep in mind that sperm can survive for up to five days and longer inside the body- so even if you have sex on a 'safe' day, you can still get pregnant, because the sperm survived until your ovulation date.

Add new comment


  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang>