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Contraceptive Failure Rates for Teens

The chart below compares some of the reversible contraceptives discussed in this guide. Each method is listed with its failure rate for women aged 18-19, based on data from two large studies (National Survey of Family Growth). The "one year" failure rate is the percentage of women who become pregnant after one year of using the method listed. The "two year" rate is the percentage of women who have become pregnant after two years of using the method listed. The percentage of teens using each method is for all teens aged 15-19.

The probability of a contraceptive failure multiplies over time. Failure rates for most of these methods are higher for teens than adults because teens are more fertile than older couples, and they are less likely to use the methods consistently and correctly.


  Percentage Becoming Pregnant Percent Teens
method of birth control after one year after two years using this method
No Method * 86.0 96.0 8.1
Spermicides 36.8 49.8 0.0
Calendar-Rhythm Method * 33.8 44.0 0.0
Withdrawal 31.3 43.1 0.8
Diaphragm * 21.2 21.8 0.0
Male Condoms 17.7 27.5 8.5
Oral Contraceptives 8.6 14.0 16.7
Contraceptive Patch (Ortho Evra) ** 8.6 14.0 0.6
Vaginal Ring (Nuva) ** 8.6 14.0 0.0
Shot (Depo-Provera) 4.3 8.5 4.4
Intrauterine Device (IUD) 4.3 8.5 0.1
Implant (Norplant) 4.3 8.5 0.0
Abstinence *** 0 0 56.2

Source for Failure Rates: N Ranjit, A Bankole, JE Darroch, S Singh, "Contraceptive Failure in the First Two Years of Use: Differences Across Socioeconomic Subgroups," Family Planning Perspectives, 2001, 33(1):19-27. (pdf)
* First year rates for teens are not known and are shown for ages 20-24.
** Failure rates are not yet known for these newer methods and are assumed to be the same as teen failure rates oral contraceptives.

Source for User Rates: William D. Mosher, Gladys M. Martinez, Anjani Chandra, Joyce C. Abma, Stephanie J. Willson, "Advance Data from Vital and Health Statistics: Use of Contraception and Use of Family Planning Services in the United States: 19822002," Division of Vital Statistics, CDC, No. 350, Dec 2004. Table 6, p. 18. (pdf)
** Rates for patch are estimated from combined figure given for Implant, Lunelle, and Patch (0.8).
*** Percent using abstinence inclues women never having sex plus those not having sex in the previous three months.

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