New Horrifying Study Shows Your Birth Control Is Actually Way Less Than 99 Percent Effective

Thanks, science, for confirming my absolute worst fear of my birth control being worthless. We do everything right: pop a daily pill, use condoms, and even rush off to the drugstore at 3:17 a.m. for Plan B when things go wrong. But is that enough? Science says no.

Princeton University published a study that’s scarier than any questions about your love life that a relative will ask you at Thanksgiving this year. We’ve heard that some of our most common forms of birth control are 99 percent effective, which is scary enough. Unfortunately, that’s only for a year of use. For those of you who slept through statistics, let me give you a basic explanation of what this means. Those numbers compound, which means that for each year you don’t get pregnant, the odds of you getting pregnant in the future go up. It’s completely a numbers game. For example, let’s say you’re trying to guess a number between one and 100. There’s only a one percent chance you hit it. However, the longer you guess, the more likely it is that you’ll eventually guess the number. That’s what we’re working with here, and it’s horrifying.

Researchers who know about compounding statistics were intelligent enough to look at the effectiveness of birth control not just during a one year period, but during a 10 year period. What they found will absolutely scare you shitless. With typical use over 10 years, 61 out of every 100 women on the pill will have an unexpected pregnancy. Eighty-six in 100 will get pregnant from condom use. Ninety-two in 100 will get pregnant from the withdrawal method. The good news here is that this study shows effects with typical use. If you use your birth control perfectly, the odds (thankfully) go down, leaving roughly only a three percent chance of pregnancy over 10 years while using the pill. In addition, this only studied individual contraceptive methods, so if you’re doubling up on protection, the odds of you getting pregnant would be significantly less. Check out the charts below. The colored line at the top represents pregnancies with typical use, and the dotted line on the bottom represents perfect use. If this doesn’t scare you, I’m not sure anything will.


Well, that’s it. Looks like I’m never having sex again. At least I don’t have to shave my legs…right?

Click here to see the interactive map.

[via New York Times]

Email this to a friend


RecruitmentChairTSM (@TheRecruitChair) is a contributing writer for Total Sorority Move. This current grad student and ex-sorority girl survives solely on Diet Coke and the tears of the pledges she personally victimized. She's a Monica, a Marnie, a Miranda, and a Regina. Her favorite hobbies include drinking $14 bottles of wine and binge-watching season 2 of Grey's Anatomy until she cries. You can send her annoying e-mails at

For More Photos and Videos

Latest podcasts

New Stories

Load More