Unintended Pregnancy Percentages by Contraceptive Method
Method Unintended pregnancies
within 1st year of use (%)
Women Continuing Use at 1 Year (%)
Typical use Perfect use
No method1 85 85
Spermicides2 21 16 42
Fertility awareness–based
15 47
 Standard days method 12 5 
 Two day method 14 4
 Ovulation method 23 3
 Symptothermal method 2 0.4
 Natural Cycles 8 1
Withdrawal 20  4 46
Sponge 17 12 36
 Parous women 27 20
 Nulliparous women 14 9
 Female 21  5 41
 Male 13 2 43
Diaphragm5 17  16  57
Combined pill and
progestin-only pill
7 0.3 67
Patch 7 0.3 67
NuvaRing 7 0.3 67
Depo-Provera 4 0.2 56
Intrauterine devices      
 Paragard (CopperT) 0.8 0.6 78
 Mirena (LNG 52mg) 0.1 0.1 80
 Skyla (LNG 13.5mg) 0.4 0.3
 Liletta (LNG 52mg) 0.1 0.1
 Kyleena (LNG 19.5mg) 0.2 0.2
Nexplanon 0.1 0.1 89
Tubal occlusion 0.5 0.5 100
Vasectomy 0.15 0.1 100
Lactational amenorrhea method6

Key: LNG = levonorgestrel

Typical use: Initiate use of a method, not necessarily for the 1st time. Percentage of couples who experience an accidental pregnancy during the 1st year if they do not stop use for any other reason. Estimates of the probability of pregnancy during the 1st year of typical use for spermicides and the diaphragm are taken from the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) corrected for underreporting of abortion; estimates for fertility awareness-based methods, withdrawal, the male condom, the pill and Depo-Provera are taken from the 1995 and 2002 NSFG corrected for underreporting of abortion.

Perfect use: Initiate use of a method, not necessarily for the first time and who use it perfectly both consistently and correctly. Percentage of couples who experience an accidental pregnancy during the 1st yr if they do not stop use for any other reason.

Continued use: Attempting to avoid pregnancy. Percentage of couples who continue to use a method for 1yr.

1 The percentage becoming pregnant in the second and third columns are based on data from populations where contraception is not used and from women who cease using contraception to become pregnant. Among such populations, approximately 89% become pregnant within 1yr. This estimate was lowered slightly to 85% to represent the percentage who would become pregnant within 1yr among women not relying on reversible methods of contraception if they abandoned contraception altogether.

2 Gels, vaginal supp, and vaginal film

3 The ovulation and two day methods are based on evaluation of cervical mucus. The standard days method avoids intercourse on cycle days 8−19. The symptothermal method is a double-check method based on evaluation of cervical mucus to determine the 1st fertile day and evaluation of cervical mucus and temperature to determine the last fertile day. Natural Cycles is a fertility app that requires user input of basal body temperature (BBT) recordings and dates of menstruation and optional LH urinary test results.

4 Without spermicides

5 With spermicidal crm or jelly

6 Highly effective, temporary method of contraception. Must use alternative contraception as soon as menstruation resumes, breastfeeding frequency/duration reduced, bottle feeds are introduced, or the baby reaches age 6mos to maintain effective protection against pregnancy.


Curtis KM, Jatlaoui TC, Tepper NK, et al. U.S. Selected Practice Recommendations for Contraceptive Use, 2016. MMWR Recomm Rep 2016;65(No. RR-4):1-66. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/rr/rr6504a1.htm. Accessed March 9, 2018.

Contraceptive Efficacy. Contraceptive Technology Web site. http://www.contraceptivetechnology.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Contraceptive-Failure-Rates.pdf. Accessed September 14, 2020.

(Rev. 5/2022)