Gyno Pearls: Contraception Getting Less Effective Or Pregnancy Tests Getting Better?

Do you know the statistics behind your contraceptive's effectiveness? We calculate the successes of a contraception based on how many women are protected against pregnancy, and how many get pregnant. The simplest way to do this is to use a calculation called the Pearl index. And in this country is used as the method to count the success and failure rates of contraception. So statistically your method is measured by the simple way of monitoring out of a hundred women using the method for a full year, how many would be pregnant? So if we say that a birth control pill has a Pearl Index of 99, we mean that of 100 users over a year, only one will be pregnant by the end of the year. Now in real life there's more to effectiveness than just looking at 100 women at once. So the FDA will use Life Table analysis. In this system they will look at your statistical likelihood of conceiving in a given month on the method vs off the method. That is more reliable, but confusing for a patient and physician to discuss. And most contraceptive effectiveness data is based on about a year of use. The FDA also makes many companies, now doing contemporary studies, track the effectiveness in the first month after use. What is more confusing to patients and physicians is to talk about effectiveness of, say our pills, over 5 or 10 years. Does it change? No studies done to check that at all, but most of us assume that practice makes perfect. This is true in the barrier method group. The longer users in the few studies that have been done do have a higher success rate than the new user! Numbers and statistics can be confusing, but then again the facts are the facts!


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