Contraceptive use can either be perfect (always correct) or typical (which usually applies to the average person, as it is sometimes difficult to use contraception correctly every time).
Our effectiveness figures for each contraceptive method below are based on typical use during the first year.
Vasectomy: 99.9% effective
The tubes that carry sperm from the testicles to the penis (the vasa deferentia) are tied or sealed so that there is no sperm in the semen when a man ejaculates.
This method of contraception involves a simple and quick operation which should be considered permanent.
It is possible to reverse the operation, but it is difficult and not always successful.
Offers highly effective protection against pregnancy.
Condom: 82% effective
Condoms prevent sperm from entering the vagina and fertilising an egg.
Condoms can cause interruption during sex to use and can split or slip.
They are the only method of contraception to provide protection from sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Withdrawal: 78% effective
The man withdraws his penis from the woman when he feels he is going to ejaculate. He then ejaculates outside her body.
It is not an effective way to prevent pregnancy as some sperm leak out of the penis before ejaculation.
It has a relatively high failure rate and requires great control and much practice.
Fertility awareness method (FAM): 76% effective
A woman learns to tell the fertile time of her monthly cycle by daily monitoring of her bodily changes. She will monitor and record the length of her monthly cycle, temperature, secretions, changes to the cervix, and may use fertility prediction devices.
During the fertile time, a couple avoids vaginal sex or they use another method such as condoms.
There are no physical side effects.
Some FAM methods may be hard to use during fever or vaginal infection, after childbirth, or while breastfeeding.
Some areas have limited availability of suitably trained healthcare professionals to teach this method.
Spermicides: 72% effective
Contain a sperm-killing product. Spermicides are available in foam, cream, jelly, film, suppository or tablet form.
The spermicide products are inserted into the vagina before sex.
They are easy to obtain. No prescription or fitting is required. Use involves forward planning and may cause interruption.
It may be messy and irritate the vagina or penis. Usually spermicides are combined with other contraceptive barrier methods, such as condoms or the diaphragm.
It has a relatively high failure rate when used alone.