If you have just learned that you are pregnant but you have been using birth control, you may be surprised. It is important to understand that all methods of birth control can fail. Some methods of birth control are more reliable than others, but no method of birth control is 100% reliable.
Condoms are one of the most popular methods of birth control. This is a barrier-type of birth control because it is meant to prevent sperm from ever reaching the egg and fertilizing it, which is how pregnancy occurs. It is estimated that condoms are between 84% and 98% effective in pregnancy prevention. Condoms are only intended to be used one time. While water-based lubricants can be applied to condoms, any other substances can cause them to break or tear, which can increase the chances of failed birth control. If they are exposed to heat they can also breakdown, increasing the chances of failure.
Another popular form of birth control is known as the "pill". There are many different types of oral contraceptives which feature different dosages of hormones. The basis of the oral contraceptive is to prevent the egg from being released from the ovary. Oral contraceptives are estimated to be between 95% and 99.9% effective at pregnancy prevention. If you take antibiotics while taking oral contraceptives, the antibiotics may interfere with the ability of the pill to prevent pregnancy. Oral contraceptives must be taken as directed and must not be skipped in order to be effective.
There is also another form of oral contraceptive, which is known as the mini-pill. Unlike the regular oral contraceptive, the goal behind this method is to thicken the mucus in the cervix to prevent sperm from reaching and fertilizing the egg. This method can also prevent a fertilized egg from becoming implanted in the womb. The mini-pill is estimated to between 92% and 99.9% effective at pregnancy prevention. The mini-pill must be taken at the same time each day in order to be effective. Even taking it more than three hours past time can reduce effectiveness. Antibiotics can also interfere with this method.
The IUD is a type of device that is in the shape of a T and is placed inside the uterus. It works by preventing sperm from reaching the egg and in the event that fertilization does occur, the fertilized egg will be prevented from reaching the uterine lining. IUDs may stay in place for up to 12 years. They are estimated at being 99% effective at pregnancy prevention.
Another barrier method is commonly referred to as the female condom. It is meant to prevent sperm from entering the female body. It is estimated at being 79% to 95% effective at pregnancy prevention.
Yet another pregnancy prevention method is by injection. The most well known is Depo-Provera, which is injected every three months and is estimated to be about 97% effective.
The diaphragm is another popular barrier method that blocks sperm from entering the cervix and ever reaching the egg. It is estimated to be between 84% and 94% effective at pregnancy prevention. The diaphragm must be left in place for up to 8 hours following intercourse in order to be effective.
The patch is a relatively new form of birth control that releases hormones directly into the bloodstream. In order to be effective the patch must be replaced once per week for three weeks. The patch, when used correctly, is between 98% and 99% effective.
As you can see, no method of birth control is 100% effective. Some methods are more effective than others, but all methods are subject to failure. If you have been regularly using birth control but have taken a pregnancy test and received a positive result, it is important to contact your physician as soon as possible to discuss options.
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