Contraceptive Technology and Reproductive Health Series: Home Page Contraceptive Technology and Reproductive Health Series Back to FHI Website
Barrier Methods
Introduction Contents Post-Test References Go To Presenter Info


Section 1

- Objectives
- Methods
- Good Health
- Characteristics
- Characteristics
- Users
- Global
> Pregnancy
- STDs
- Counseling
- Instruction

Section 2
Section 3


Previous pageNext page

Section 1 - Overview of Barrier Methods

Contraceptive Pregnancy Rates

Contraceptive Pregnancy Rates graph

Source: Trussell, 1994; Jones/Forrest, 1992 (OC typical use data).
Slide 8

Barrier methods can be very effective at preventing pregnancy when used consistently and correctly. In this slide, the yellow rectangles on the left show how effective various methods can be when used both consistently and correctly. If used correctly at every act of intercourse, barrier methods generally have low pregnancy rates, about 3 percent for the male condom and 7 percent for spermicides. A 3 percent pregnancy rate means that three out of every 100 women using this method for a year would get pregnant.

The red rectangles on the right show how effective the methods are, based on actual or typical use during one year. Typical users include those who may not use the method consistently and correctly. Under typical use, contraceptive pregnancy rates for some barrier methods are 21 percent or higher. The pregnancy rates for diaphragms that are used in conjunction with spermicides are slightly less than those of spermicides when used alone. Contraceptive effectiveness should improve when the male condom and vaginally inserted spermicides are used together, although data on this issue are not available.

Note that the difference between the rates for consistent and correct use and the rates for typical use is large for certain methods, such as oral contraceptives and barrier methods. This is because these methods depend heavily on the client to use them consistently and correctly. Good counseling may be able to influence use patterns. Notice also that the difference is small or non-existent for long-acting methods such as Norplant, IUDs, Depo-Provera or female sterilization, which do not require much or any action by the client.

Learner Note: Failure rates vary from country to country because they are dependent on many factors. Thus, studies report varying rates, and it is impossible to calculate one precise rate for any method. The three main factors that influence the effectiveness of any contraceptive method include the inherent effectiveness of the method itself, programmatic issues, and whether or not the method is used correctly and consistently by users. Correct use is dependent not only on the user, but is influenced by a variety of programmatic factors. To facilitate correct and consistent use of any contraceptive method, programs must offer a variety of contraceptive options with adequate counseling for clients and proper follow-up care. Clients must also receive complete and instructive information on how to use the method, and on the importance of correct and consistent use. Some methods depend greatly on the technical competence of the provider to administer the method properly. All methods must also be accessible and affordable to the user.



Previous page      Next page