Oopsie. Unintended pregnancies occur when a reported pregnancy is unwanted or occurred earlier than desired. This usually occurs if a couple doesn’t use birth control, or, uses birth control incorrectly.

“In this day and age there’s no reason 49 percent of pregnancies should be unintended. There are contraceptive options for everyone,” JRMC Gynecologist and Obstetrician, Dr. Bailey Runkles shared.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 5,000 unintended pregnancies were reported in North Dakota in 2010.


The following are various birth control methods for men and women:

  1. The pill. Combined oral contraceptives include estrogen and progestin. Women on this medication take the pill each day at the same time. Unlike combined oral contraceptives with two hormones, progestin-only pills are a good option for women unable to take estrogen or are breastfeeding. Pills are 91 percent effective.
  1. I.U.D. There are two types of intrauterine devices. The Copper T IUD (Paragard) is a small T-shaped device that a physician places inside of the uterus to help prevent pregnancy. These can stay in a uterus for up to 10 years.

While the Copper T IUD may stay in longer, the Levonorgestrel IUD (Mirena) stays in for up to five years with a typical failure rate of 0.2%. The LNG IUD is similar in shape to the Copper T IUD, but different in that it releases small amounts of progestin daily to help prevent pregnancy.

  1. Condom. Male condoms, commonly made of latex, help prevent pregnancy, HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The male condom has a failure rate of 18 percent. Its counterpart, the female condom, has a failure rate of 21 percent. Female condoms are worn by the woman and inserted vaginally up to eight hours prior to sexual intercourse.
  1. Spermicide. Foam, gel, cream film, suppository or tablet are all forms of spermicide. They are vaginally inserted less than one hour prior to intercourse and are left in place for six to eight hours afterward. Diaphragms are typically used with spermicide to block or kill sperm. Spermicide is one of the least effective forms of birth control. One in four couples who rely on this method still conceive. 
  1. Injections. Progestin is a hormone that physicians inject into a woman’s buttocks or arm every three months. According to the CDC, injections, if taken on time, are 3 percent more effective than pills, patches, rings and diaphragms.
  1. All Natural. It’s important to understand a woman’s monthly fertility pattern. This is the number of days within a month when a woman can be fertile, infertile and in the gray area. If a woman’s menstrual cycle is regular she usually has nine or more fertile days each month. During those dates, use a form of birth control if not wanting to become pregnant. Another common form of all-natural birth control is the withdrawal method. The withdrawal method, or pulling out, is when the man pulling the penis out of the vagina before ejaculation.

About one in four or five couples who rely on these forms of birth control alone still conceive.

  1. Implant. Neplanon is a small implant inserted under the skin of a woman’s upper arm. It is a single, thin rod that contains a progestin hormone that releases into the body throughout the next three years. Implants are 99 percent effective.
  1. Sterilization. Permanent birth control is an option for men and women. Men can choose no-scalpel vasectomies, which take about 30-40 minutes and usually occur in a clinic setting. Male sterilization is less invasive than its alternate, tubal ligation, which is the female form of sterilization. Providers perform tubal ligations in an operating room and require a longer recovery period.

When considering sterilization, consider the permanence of this method. The U.S. Collaborative Review of Sterilization study found that women who had tubal ligations at earlier ages were far likelier to experience regret.

  1. Emergency contraception. Emergency contraception is not regular forms of birth control. These pills are intended to stop a pregnancy before it begins and should only be used when there was no method of birth control used or the method used failed.
  1. Abstinence. Abstinence is the only 100 percent effective way to prevent HIV, STDs and pregnancy, other than sterilization, according to the CDC.

Take the time to discuss birth control with your partner. The CDC suggests to always use a condom and an additional form of birth control each time to reduce the risk of pregnancy, HIV and other STDs.

“It’s important to remember that while contraception prevents pregnancy, it doesn’t prevent the contraction of an STI,” Dr. Runkles shared. “Even condoms do not prevent the spread of herpes or warts.”

Considering which birth control is best to use? Contact our gynecology and obstetrics team and schedule directly: (701) 952-4878.