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Top 10 Ways Not to Get Pregnant

By Stephenie Labandz ; Updated July 18, 2017

Pregnancy is a life-changing experience that requires making decisions with long-term effects. Take measures to help ensure it happens at the right time. Remember that the effectiveness of the chosen method of birth control correlates with how closely you follow the manufacturer’s directions or doctor’s orders.

Understand Reproduction

In a woman with a 28-day menstrual cycle, an egg is released from an ovary 14 days after her last period started and remains fertile for 24 hours. Sperm entering the vagina prior to ovulation can fertilize an egg and result in pregnancy, and fertilization only requires one sperm. According to a 2005 article from Human Reproduction Update, sperm can survive in a woman’s body for up to 5 days. Menstrual and ovulation cycles do not run like clockwork, leaving unpredictable windows of fertility of about one week each month.

Communicate With Your Partner

In a 1985 study from the Archives of Sexual Behavior and a 2006 study from the Journal of Adolescent Health, openness of communication about sex related to increased contraceptive use. Discuss and agree upon the form or forms of contraception to use, and share responsibility for contraception.

Abstinence and Outercourse

Abstinence remains the only 100% effective form of birth control. Outercourse is another term for sexual activity that does not involve contact of the penis or semen with the female genitalia.

Vasectomy or Female Sterilization

According to Planned Parenthood, these surgical methods of permanent sterilization result in less than one pregnancy per 100 women each year. The procedures involve cutting the man's vas deferens or the woman's fallopian tubes to prevent sperm or eggs from passing through. The following statistics also come from Planned Parenthood.

Intrauterine Device

Also known as an IUD, this small plastic implant placed in the uterus during an outpatient doctor visit prevents pregnancy as long as it remains in place, up to 12 years. Your doctor can remove it if you want to get pregnant. Pregnancy occurs in less than one per 100 women using this method.


A physician places a small plastic implant resembling a matchstick under the skin in the upper arm, which slowly releases the hormone progestin to keep the ovaries from releasing eggs. This method proves effective for up to three years with a pregnancy rate of less than one per 100.

Birth Control Shot

A woman receives an injection of the hormone progestin in the arm. Injections must be repeated every three months to prevent pregnancy. Two to eight percent of women get pregnant while using this method.

Other Hormone Control Methods

These include birth control pills taken daily by mouth, contraceptive rings placed vaginally once per month for three weeks and patches placed on the skin once per week for three weeks each month. All require a prescription, and all require proper use for effectiveness. Two to eight percent of women using these methods get pregnant each year. Emergency contraception, also known as the morning after pill, can be taken up to five days after sex to prevent ovulation, thicken cervical mucus, and thin the lining of the uterus. It decreases the chance of pregnancy by 89%.


Condoms, female condoms, diaphragms, cervical caps, and birth control sponges block sperm from entering the cervix. The birth control sponge includes spermicide, and the others are most effective when used with spermicide.

Fertility-Awareness Based Methods

Also known as Natural Family Planning, this involves tracking basal body temperature and cervical mucus to determine when ovulation occurs and using alternate methods of contraception during fertile times. Each year 15 to 25 percent of women using this method get pregnant.

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