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Which Of These Birth Control Methods Is The Most Effective?

When it comes to preventing babies, not all methods are created equal.

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Birth control is a fantastic way to avoid babies. But some options are more effective than others.

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And sometimes the effectiveness depends on how perfectly you use it. Since most of us aren't ~perfect~, doctors and researchers call that "typical use" when they're looking at how effective a birth control method is. They compare that to "perfect use," which is defined as using the method absolutely flawlessly every single time.

In this quiz, we're asking about "typical use" — not "perfect use."

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FYI: Effectiveness here is calculated by subtracting the failure rate, or the percentage of couples who experience an unintended pregnancy during the first year on this method. So if something is 95% effective, that means it has a 5% failure rate, which means that 5% of couples would get pregnant during the first year of using this method.

  1. Getty Images
    Condom
    Via Getty Images
    Condom
    Via Getty Images
    Birth Control Pill
    Via Getty Images
    Birth Control Pill
    Via Getty Images
    Birth Control Shot
    Via Getty Images
    Birth Control Shot
    Via Getty Images
    Birth Control Ring
    Via instagram.com
    Birth Control Ring
    Hormonal IUD
    Via Getty Images
    Hormonal IUD
    Via Getty Images
    Copper IUD
    Via Getty Images
    Copper IUD
    Via Getty Images
    Female Sterilization
    Via instagram.com
    Female Sterilization
    Pulling Out
    Via Getty Images
    Pulling Out
    Via Getty Images
    Implant
    Via Nexplanon.com
    Implant

Which Of These Birth Control Methods Is The Most Effective?

You got: Nope, the condom is not the most effective birth control method here.

With typical use, condoms are 82% effective at preventing pregnancy. But with perfect use, that goes up to 98%! So make sure you're using a condom every single time you have sex — the whole time. (Here are more ways you might be using condoms wrong.) That said, this is the ONLY birth control option on this quiz that also protects against STDs, so be sure to use it anyway if you're trying to avoid those too. You can find out more about condoms here.

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You got: Nope, the birth control pill is not the most effective birth control method here.

Brace yourself: The pill is actually 91% effective with typical use, which includes missing a pill here or there. With absolutely perfect use, the pill is 99.7% effective, so talk to your doctor to make sure you're using it the right way, or to see if another method might be better for you. You can find out more about the pill here.

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You got: No, the birth control shot is not the most effective birth control method here.

The Depo-Provera shot is 94% effective with typical use. That's because it's super important to get your shots on time every three months and to talk to your doctor about the timing of your period so you know how soon after the shot you're protected. If you can handle that, the shot is 99.8% effective with perfect use. You can find out more about the shot here.

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You got: No, the birth control ring is not the most effective birth control method here.

Just like the birth control pill, the ring is 91% effective with typical use and 99.7% effective with perfect use. So talk to your doctor about using this method consistently and correctly. You can find out more about the ring here.

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You got: Close! But no, the hormonal IUD is not the most effective birth control method here.

There are two main kinds of hormonal IUDs, and both are over 99% effective, but they're still not the winners here. The Mirena IUD is 99.8% effective for up to five years, and the Skyla IUD (a slightly smaller version) is 99.6% effective for up to three years. Both options are inserted into the uterus and release a type of progestin hormone called levonorgestrel to prevent pregnancy, so their typical use and perfect use percentages are the same. You can find out more about IUDs here.

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You got: Close! But no, the copper IUD is not the most effective birth control method here.

The ParaGard IUD is actually 99.2% effective with typical use and 99.4% effective with perfect use, but it's still not the winner here. That said, this is a great option for people who don't want to (or can't) be on a hormonal method. You can find out more about IUDs here.

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You got: Shockingly, no, female sterilization is not the most effective birth control method here!

OMG, right?! We know it sounds bonkers, but there's a very small chance that you could get pregnant after a tubal ligation, which is why it's considered 99.5% effective. So even though this is a permanent birth control option, be sure to talk to your doctor about any risk of pregnancy. And yes, there are actually methods here with an even smaller chance of pregnancy (although they're not as long-lasting). You can find out more about sterilization here.

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You got: No way, pulling out is not the most effective birth control method here.

If only, right? The withdrawal method is actually 78% effective with typical use. But, surprisingly, it's 96% effective with perfect use, so if you and your partner REALLY trust each other and are REALLY good at timing this EVERY single time, it might not be a bad option. You can find out more about withdrawal here.

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You got: Yes, the implant is the most effective birth control method here!

You guessed it! The implant is actually 99.95% effective with perfect or typical use. It's a tiny rod that's implanted under the skin of your upper arm, and it releases the hormone progestin to prevent pregnancy for up to three years. You can find out more about the implant here. But keep in mind that just because this was shown to have the lowest failure rate in the first year of use, that doesn't necessarily mean it's right for you. So talk to your doctor about your unique health and situation, and they can help you determine which method is best.

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Medical information sourced by the CDC, the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, and Bedsider.

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