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Main Reason For Birth Control Failure

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Updated May 08, 2014

According to a large-scale study conducted by leading sexual health researchers, as reported in the Guardian, one in every three babies conceived is by accident. These pregnancies resulted from condoms breaking and because women missed taking their birth control pills.

This leads us to the the number one reason that accounts for the birth control failure...

Main Reason for Birth Control Failure - User Error:

User error varies depending on which method of contraception is used. Birth control must be used consistently and according to instructions in order to attain maximum effectiveness. Certain methods are more prone to user error than others.

According to Professor Glasier, one of the report's authors, "a lot of women aren't terribly good at using contraception, the problem mainly being with the pill and condoms. There's something in human nature which makes us not brilliant at taking pills every day."

Understanding Birth Control Effectiveness

To understand how to prevent birth control failure, it is important understand how effectiveness is determined. You need to realize that the effectiveness rates of a particular birth control method are usually provided as "typical user rates" and "perfect use rates."

Typical use refers to failure rates for people who don't always or consistently use their birth control method correctly. These rates usually apply to the average person as it is sometimes difficult to always and reliably use birth control properly. This is where user error enters into the equation. The person may put a condom on wrong, forget to take a birth control pill at the correct time, insert a NuvaRing, diaphragm or Today Sponge incorrectly or maybe forgot to use a back-up method or additional spermicide.

Perfect use refers to failure rates for those whose birth control use is consistent and always correct. This usually applies to methods where the user doesn't have to do much - such as permanent sterilization, Depo Provera, Implanon (birth control implant) or IUDs.

The typical use success rate, therefore, is generally lower than the success rate of the method if used perfectly.

What To Do if You Think Your Birth Control Failed

If it is within 3-5 days since a noticeable birth control failure happened (such as a condom breaking), you can use emergency contraception. This is birth control (offered in several different ways) that can be taken after the fact to help reduce the chances of getting pregnant due to user error. Many forms of emergency contraception can be obtained behind a pharmacy counter (with proof of age... you need to be 17 years of age or older), but do not require a prescription. The sooner it is taken, the more effective it should be.

If it is too late to use emergency contraception, it may be helpful to undertstand how conception could have occurred. If your period is late, you may start asking yourself whether or not your birth control may have failed. Before you begin to explore the notion that your contraception may have failed, it may be wise to first confirm whether or not you are pregnant. The best and most reliable way to know if your birth control failed and a pregnancy has occurred is to take a pregnancy test.

If you do confirm that contraception failure has happened: Steps to Guide You Through an Unexpected Pregnancy

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