Can You Get Pregnant on Birth Control?

By Freedman, Megan

Yes, you can get pregnant on birth control. No method (except not having sex) is guaranteed to prevent pregnancy 100%. But some birth control methods are more effective than others. If you use your birth control exactly as directed every time you have sex, you can increase the odds that your birth control will work for you.

How Can I Lower My Chances of Getting Pregnant on Birth Control?

You can lower your chances of getting pregnant by using your birth control correctly and consistently. Follow the directions on the packaging label or ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist what you can do to increase the effectiveness of your birth control. For example, the pill is most effective if you take it every day at the same time each day. Also, certain antibiotics can reduce the effectiveness of the pill. Before taking a new medicine, tell your healthcare provider you are taking the pill and ask if you should use an alternative form of birth control temporarily.

Birth Control Methods That Are 99% Effective at Preventing Pregnancy

These birth control options will prevent pregnancy 99 out of 100 times and are the most effective birth control methods available:

  • Hormone implant is a small plastic rod that your doctor inserts under the skin of your upper arm. It releases a hormone that prevents pregnancy for three years.

  • IUD (intrauterine device) is a T-shaped rod, containing either copper or hormones, that your doctor inserts into your uterus. It prevents pregnancy by causing your uterus to become slightly inflamed, which prevents a fertilized egg from implanting itself.

  • Sterilization is a procedure that makes a man or woman permanently infertile. The most common sterilization procedure is the vasectomy. Tubal ligation and nonsurgical Essure and Adiana are sterilization options for women. Talk to your doctor to learn more about these procedures.

Birth Control Methods That Are 91% to 98% Effective at Preventing Pregnancy

These birth control options will prevent pregnancy, on average, 95 out of 100 times and are very effective at preventing pregnancy:

  • Hormone injections are shots of progestin that your doctor or nurse gives you every three months.

  • The patch is a hormone medication that you wear for three weeks every month.

  • The pill is a hormone medication that you take orally once per day.

  • The vaginal ring is a flexible hormone-releasing ring that you insert into your vagina once a month.

Birth Control Methods That Are 76% to 85% Effective at Preventing Pregnancy

These birth control options will prevent pregnancy, on average, 81 out of a 100 times and are somewhat effective at preventing pregnancy:

  • Barrier methods, such as condoms, the cervical cap, cervical shield, and sponge. Condoms, when used correctly each time you have sex, can be up to 98% effective.

  • Withdrawal, or “pulling out,” is when a man removes his penis from your vagina before he ejaculates.

Birth Control Methods That Are 75% Effective at Preventing Pregnancy

These birth control options will prevent pregnancy 75 out of 100 times and are less effective than other methods:

  • Fertility awareness method (FAM) or natural family planning (NFP) is when you choose not to have sex during the most fertile times of your menstrual cycle.

  • Spermicide is a liquid that you insert into your vagina before sex to prevent sperm from moving up your vagina and fertilizing an egg.

To determine the right kind of birth control for you, talk to your healthcare provider. Together you can decide which birth control option makes the most sense for you.

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Dec. 15, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2013 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

Your Guide to Birth Control


Take a Personalized Health Test

Did You Know?

View Source

Unintended pregnancies account for almost half of all pregnancies in the United States.