THE REAL RISKS OF “WINGING IT”

Choosing a method of birth control with your healthcare provider is about being responsible for yourself and your future by planning ahead.

You might think, “It won’t happen to me.” But, unless you are trying to become pregnant, you are taking unnecessary risks if you have sex without using some form of birth control. Every year, 45% of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned. About 40% of these unintended pregnancies occur in women who have inconsistent or incorrect use of contraception. In comparison, women who use birth control consistently and correctly account for 5% of the total unplanned pregnancies.

About 85% of women who are not using any form of birth control will be pregnant within 1 year. Compare this with the protection that many birth control products can offer.

The birth control pill, patch, ring, injection, implant, and intrauterine device (IUD), for example, are more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy when used as directed. In other words, fewer than 1 in 100 women will have an unplanned pregnancy if they are using one of those birth control products—as long as they follow instructions. You can compare these and other forms of birth control here.

Another highly effective birth control product is the male condom. When used perfectly as directed, male condoms are about 98% effective at preventing pregnancy. They have the built-in benefit of helping protect against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Male condoms can be used in combination with many other birth control products.

Depending on when you start using the pill, patch, ring, shot, implant, or IUD, in relation to the start of your menstrual cycle, you may need to use another back-up method of birth control until your next menstruation. However, condoms should always be used to reduce the risk of STIs.

Talk with your Healthcare Provider about Choosing Birth Control

An important step for finding a birth control method that is “right” for you is to talk with your healthcare provider. She or he can give you personalized guidance, answer any of your questions, and help you understand the pros and cons of the different birth control methods as well as the risks of not using birth control.

Educating yourself with the assistance of this website or another source will help you get the most out of the conversation with your healthcare provider. This way you can tell her or him which birth control options interest you most.

Also, check out our downloadable healthcare form, which includes space for you to organize your thoughts and write down questions. Be sure to take the completed form with you when you see your healthcare provider.

Risks with estrogen products

Birth control products that contain estrogen include the patch, the ring, and certain types of birth control pills. You should not take birth control products with estrogen if you*:

  • Smoke and are over 35 years old
  • Ever had blood clots in your arms, legs, lungs or eyes
  • Ever had a stroke, heart attack
  • Ever had an inherited problem with your blood that makes it clot more than normal
  • Ever had high blood pressure that medicine can't control
  • Ever had diabetes with kidney, eye, nerve, or blood vessel damage
  • Ever had breast cancer or any cancer that is sensitive to female hormones
  • Ever had certain kinds of severe migraine headaches with aura, numbness, weakness or changes in vision
  • Ever had liver disease, including liver tumors
  • Have been prescribed any Hepatitis C drug combination containing ombitasvir/paritaprevir/ritonavir, with or without dasabuvir
  • Ever had certain heart valve problems or irregular heartbeat that increases your risk of having blood clots
  • Ever had any migraine headaches if you are over 35 years of age
  • Have any unexplained vaginal bleeding
  • Are pregnant
*For more information about these and other risks of birth control products, please consult a healthcare provider.
Choosing birth control doesn’t have to be stressful. Use this website to educate yourself.