Family planning is an important part of a woman’s health care and provides the opportunity to plan for possible pregnancy related risk factors, proper spacing of children, and even the prevention of unintended pregnancies. There are many services that are included in family planning ranging from preconception counseling, to birth control consults, to routine well women visits. Preconception counseling is especially important in women who may be at a higher risk of complications in pregnancy. Unwanted or mistimed pregnancies include about 45% of pregnancies in the U.S annually. Proper birth control use can prevent unintended pregnancies.


There are a variety of birth control options with only a few that prevent pregnancy AND decrease the risk of contracting a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI). Each birth control option has a varying rate of effectiveness and is often dependent on proper use. According to the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, below is a list of contraception options and their efficacy rate in descending order based on how they are commonly used.


Abstinence- 100% effective

Subdermal implants- 99.95% effective

Vasectomy- 99.85% effective*

Bilateral Tubal ligation- 99.5% effective*

Intrauterine devices- 99.2-99.8% effective

Progesterone injectables (Depo Provera)- 96% effective

Combined Oral Contraceptive Pills- 91% effective

Progesterone only pills- 91% effective

Vaginal rings- 91% effective

The Patch- 91% effective

Diaphragm- 88% effective

Male condoms- 82% effective (protects against STI’s)

Withdrawal- 80% effective

Female condoms- 79% effective (protects against STI’s)

Fertility Awareness Based Methods- 76% effective

Spermicide- 72% effective



The most effective birth control is the one that is used perfectly which is why those that do not depend on the user have the highest efficacy rate. Each birth control has its own pros and cons as well as limitations on who can use them. There are certain health factors that do not allow for the use of certain hormones due to an increased risk of complications. For example, someone with a history of a genetic clotting disorder or a person who smokes can be limited on which birth control options are safe for them. All hormonal birth control options have similar potential side effects such as mood swings, headaches, nausea, and weight gain to name a few. It is important that you consult with your healthcare provider to determine the best birth control option for you.


Antoinette Ferry, APRN