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Effectiveness of Over-the-Counter Contraceptives

By

Updated December 29, 2007

Over-the-counter birth control can be obtained without a doctor’s prescription and are typically barriers methods that obstruct sperm from reaching an egg. When comparing contraceptive effectiveness,

  • Typical use refers to failure rates for women who do not consistently or always correctly use their birth control. These rates usually apply to the average person as it is sometimes difficult to always and reliably use birth control the correct way

  • Perfect use refers to failure rates for those whose use is consistent and always correct.
Condom (Male)
  • Typical use: 85% effective
  • Perfect use: 98% effective
  • Of every 100 women whose partners use condoms, 15 will become pregnant (with typical use) and 2 will become pregnant with perfect use
Female Condom
  • Typical use: 79% effective
  • Perfect use: 95% effective
  • Of every 100 women who use female condoms, 21 will become pregnant (with typical use) and 5 will become pregnant with perfect use
Spermicides
  • Typical use: 71% effective
  • Perfect use: 85% effective
  • Of every 100 women who use contraceptive foam, cream, jelly, film, or suppositories, 29 will become pregnant (with typical use) and 15 will become pregnant with perfect use
Sponge

For those who have not given birth:
  • Typical use: 84% effective
  • Perfect use: 91% effective
  • Of every 100 women who use the Sponge, for those who have not given birth, 16 will become pregnant (with typical use) and 9 will become pregnant with perfect use

For those who have given birth:
  • Typical use: 68% effective
  • Perfect use: 80% Effective
  • Of every 100 women who use the Sponge, for those who have given birth, 32 will become pregnant (with typical use) and 20 will become pregnant with perfect use
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  5. Effectiveness of Over-the-Counter Contraceptives - How Effective Are Condoms - Preventing Pregnancy

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