19.04.2015

Chances of pregnancy with birth control

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Once a month, see what our medical experts have to say about birth control, health, sex, science, and more. Women under 30 years old are incredibly fertile—their ability to get pregnant is at its peak. All reversible birth control methods will help prevent pregnancy while you’re using them, but none have long-lasting effects on your ability to get pregnant when you stop. Let’s look, for example, at how long it takes for women to get pregnant when they quit the Pill compared to when they quit non-hormonal fertility awareness methods (FAM, sometimes called natural family planning).
If you had sex with a new partner and didn’t use a condom, you can still protect yourself by getting tested. Assuming typical male condom use by a heterosexual couple, the number of women projected to experience an unplanned pregnancy over a period of ten years is about 86 out of 100. For male condoms used on a ten-year timeline, the difference between pregnancy rates during perfect use (18%) and typical use (86%) is almost 70%.
Used correctly and consistently, these contraceptive methods are projected to result in an unplanned pregnancy in just 3% of women over a ten year period. Over the same time period, that's lower than the projected rate of unplanned pregnancy in women who have been sterilized. Number 3 is that these estimates have been corrected for underreporting of abortion and over-reporting of contraceptive use, both of which occur, and neither of which is very well understood. Emergency contraception works before ovulation, but does not appear to work after ovulation has already occurred.


If you've had unprotected sex and are wondering if you at risk of pregnancy, this tool from Planned Parenthood can help. That’s why women who use the Pill but accidentally forget to take it for a few days can get pregnant that month. A big study of over 2,000 women who quit the Pill after using it for an average of seven years found that 21% were pregnant in one month and 79% were pregnant in a year. The prescription will run out on your birth control and you'll miss a couple of days, lowering your body's guard against unwanted pregnancy. Few couples, if any, achieve flawless contraceptive use, especially over long time periods.
We forget, misremember, and misuse, and so we see a projected rate of pregnancy (again, over 10 years) of not 3%, but 61%. Probabilities of pregnancy for most of the reviewed contraceptive methods were estimated based on data collected in the 1995 and 2002 National Surveys of Family Growth (NSFG), a nationally representative sample of users.
These numbers can't tell you with any certainty what your likelihood of an unwanted pregnancy is, because the only person who can say how consistent you are with your chosen method of birth control is you. Pregnancy rates based on the NSFG alone would tend to be too low because induced abortions (and contraceptive failures leading to induced abortions) are underreported but would tend to be too high because contraceptive failures leading to live births are overreported. In the NSFG and in most clinical trials, a woman is 'using' a contraceptive method if she considers herself to be using that method. Women who stopped using FAM had very similar rates of pregnancy, with 20-25% pregnant in one month and 80% pregnant in a year. It’s easy to treat with antibiotics, but it’s sneaky: three in four women with Chlamydia don’t know they have it because they have no symptoms.


With the exception of the ovulation method (perfect use 26%, typical use 94%), that's a bigger difference than any other contraceptive method.
Unintended pregnancy rates of other methods were based on surveys and clinical investigations. In other words, women who quit the Pill get pregnant just as fast as other women, even if they’ve used the Pill for years. There may be a delay of up to two months after stopping the implant and up to six months after stopping the shot, but this varies from person to person, and most women get pregnant soon after stopping these methods. In other words: The longer you use a given contraceptive, the more opportunities there are for you to use it improperly or inconsistently. The reason is that the least adherent users become pregnant, leaving behind a group that over time is less and less likely to fail. The longer a woman has an untreated STI like Chlamydia or Gonorrhea, the higher the chance that it will cause scarring in the tubes that connect her ovaries and uterus. That scarring makes it difficult for an egg to travel the right direction, and hurts her chances of getting pregnant in the future.



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