I have been sexually active for a while now, and I’ve watched a lot of people I know get pregnant. Two of my friends were on birth control when this happened…

… I don’t want that to happen to me. So, I was wondering what type of birth control and condoms are most effective without personal error to account for?

Thanks for asking! It’s tough to watch your friends face unplanned pregnancies, but we’re glad you’re using this opportunity to tighten up your own birth control methods.  You’re right that human error plays a huge role in birth control failure, so it’s great to think about minimizing this!  Knowing how to use a condom properly—from checking the expiration date to pinching the tip—can reduce your risk significantly. Check your condom knowledge with this great overview, and plan to use a condom every time, even if you’re also using a hormonal method.

While hormonal birth control is more than 99% effective with perfect use, not many of us are perfect! Methods like the Pill, the Patch, and Nuvaring are about 92% with typical use. If you’ve struggled to take your pill on time, you may want to consider a method with less room for error. The birth control shot (Depo Provera) only requires a visit to Teen Clinic once every three months. As long as you come in for your shot on time, there’s no way to mess up!  You may also want to consider the Implanon. This small, flexible rod is placed under the skin in your arm, and prevents pregnancy for three years without requiring you to do anything.

Last, IUDs, or intra-uterine devices, are widely considered the most effective birth control on the market. The Paragard is a copper IUD that can be left in place for ten years, and the Mirena is a hormonal IUD that prevents pregnancy for five years. Once in place, these IUDs are 99% effective.  Learn more about IUDs here.

Make an appointment at Teen Clinic to discuss these methods with a practitioner. And keep in mind that using condoms consistently, correctly, and every time is one of the best ways to improve the effectiveness of any hormonal method—as well as prevent STI transmission.  If you’re choosing to be sexually active, it’s the responsible thing to do!