Birth control questions (ease an overly neurotic mind ;) )

I’m not sexually active yet, but I will be in the relatively near future. I’m in a monogamous relationship with a man who has been with three women in his past but is disease-free (no, not just him swearing “I’m not, I know it!”, but actually tested).

Pregnancy is, quite frankly, not an option for me. I’m 22 years old but still in my last year of college and there is no way I would be able to give birth to and take care of a baby. I’ve decided that I’m not having sex until I’m on some form of birth control, and then we’ll use condoms on top of that.

Onto the question:

According to Planned Parenthood’s birth control information, condoms have an 85% success rate with average use and 98% with typical use. If I went on the pill, it would have a 92-99+% success rate. I am obsessively neurotic enough to be pretty damn sure that I would be extremely conscientious about taking my pills daily, at the same time each day. We would also try our hardest to use condoms exactly as directed.

So, what is the success rate for combined birth control? Do you just take the two and average them? Do you add some undetermined number to the one that has the higher success rate? What if we used the pills, condoms, and spermicide (foam form)?

Obviously, I know that I will be taking a risk of becoming pregnant with sexual activity and that the only 100% effective method is abstinence. But I’m trying to be as responsible as possible, and I’d like to understand this and get some answers. :slight_smile:

Mathematically speaking, here’s what I’d do:

Condoms have an 85% success rate, or a 15% failure rate. So for 15% of the time, its like you didn’t use a condom.

The pill works 92% of the time, so for 92% of the 15%, you’re still safe. That’s about 14%.

So you’re safe 99% of the time with the condom and the pill (and better than that if you use both of them correctly, all of the time.)

I don’t know if that’s a medically valid approach to the problem.

The 85% figure for condoms is a little misleading. If you read the instructions, and follow them properly, you’ll be closer to the 98% figure. Things that people can’t seem to understand include keeping your fingernails away from the condom, not opening the packet with your teeth, and making sure there’s enough lubrication (dry condoms are more prone to splitting).

Aaaaaaand holding on to them when you’re withdrawing!

Assuming that the methods are completely independent, Podkayne’s method is sound. Any single method, if it works, is by itself enough to prevent pregnancy. So you can only become pregnant if all of the methods fail, and your failure rate is therefore the product of all the separate failure rates.

This is assuming that all the methods are independent. I would presume that the Pill and condoms would be independent, but I would not make that assumption about, say, condoms and a diaphragm, since they’re both barrier methods, and some of the same failure conditions might apply to both. In the extreme case, I’ve heard that wearing one condom over another will actually increase chance of failure, compared to a single condom, due to friction and the chance of tearing.

These success rates are assuming consistent use over the period of a year. Therefore, the “85 percent” low figure for condoms means that if a couple uses condoms as the sole means of birth control and are regularly active, there is a 15 percent chance of pregnancy.

With proper use of condoms (98%) and use of the Pill (92%) there is a failure rate of .02 * .08 = .0016, or 1 in 625. This is not per act - this is per year of use. So if you used both methods and were humping on a regular basis, there is about the same chance of your getting knocked up as there is of the San Diego Chargers winning the Super Bowl this year. Using just the pill would increase the odds to roughly those of the Vikings winning it all.

So does the recent injury to Vikings RB Michael Bennett mean that pill-only users can hump with a little more peace of mind? :smiley:

It’s good to see you’re thinking very responsibly before having sex, zweisamkeit - just be sure and keep at it.

It would be a simple matter to calculate the day on which you ovulate and skip sex on the appropriate number of days before and after. This would make you even less likely to fall pregnant.

Couldn’t be safer than that :smiley:

First, this is probably a joke and I’m getting whooshed, and second, everyone reading the thread probably already knows this, but I just wanted to point out that this would be the infamous “rhythm method”.

Old joke: What do you call people who use the rhythm method? Parents.

There’s a method of calculating your fertile and non-fertile times that is alternately called either the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) or Natural Family Planning (NFP) depending on whose book you read, but it involves checking your temperature every morning at the same time, checking your cervical fluid daily, and keeping excellent records. Not for everybody.

However, if you wanted to go that route, you could conceivably use a barrier method (e.g. condoms) and a hormonal method (e.g. the Pill) and then also chart your fertility cycle and completely abstain during your fertile period.

That is exactly what I meant. It is well established that pregnancy in almost all cases occurs in the period around ovulation. In fact that is what forms the basis of calculations for due dates. Most couples attempting to increase the possibility of pregnancy will be encouraged to follow these methods in reverse.

Since the whole thread was about adding extra precautions I assumed it was obvious to anyone reading that I meant this in addition to the use of the methods already accepted.

A little research will actually indicate that the success rates for “rhythm” methods are not dissimilar to other methods depending on how effective the practioners are in sticking to the method. For some reason it is scorned for it’s failures while those of pill users are dismissed. Here are some trials of the Billings method. Anecdotally the only couples I know that have only ever had trouble free planned pregnancies are the few on the Billings method for religous reasons.

So you know, my reading (not that I’m a source of medical information, obviously, but I thought I’d offer . . . ) suggests that properly-used birth control is at the upper end of the spectrum you provided; if you are conscientious about never missing a dose, and taking it at the same time every day, you can probably count on the 99% level, though things like antibiotics can make them less effective. Birth control pills, if used properly, are quite effective, though.

Nothing wrong with belt-and-suspenders, though.

OK. It’s probably just a difference in semantics, but I would never suggest to anyone that they use the “rhythm method” even if I meant using the fertility awareness method, which is as you point out relatively effective, if used properly. The reason is that when most people hear “rhythm method”, they think of the old system where you assumed your cycle was 28 days long and that you ovulated on day 14 and therefore you abstained on days 10-18 or something like that. This method has a very high chance of getting you pregnant, because obviously women don’t always ovulate precisely on day 14.

I know (now) that’s not what you were referring to, but that’s what 95% of people would think of if they heard “rhythm method”.

Also, I want to tangentially point out that the Billings method relies solely on checking the cervical fluid, which is not as accurate as checking both cervical fluid and basal body temperature. Neither is as accurate as checking cervical fluid, basal body temperature, and cervical position. (This has now turned into a major hijack; if anyone wants to further discuss the fertility awareness method, I’d be happy to, but we should probably start a new thread for it.)

Nope. The running back is actually about the least important of the “big name” positions. Besides, the Vikings could run their backup and still do just as well - they’re a pass-oriented team.

Personal experience here - I used the pill successfully for 16 years. It took two or three of the first years to figure out what was the right pill for me (there are LOTS of them - all different). But never a single problem with those pills. Condoms kept out any disease, all was good.

I stopped taking the little things for 1 year, and used just condoms instead. That was all it took, and WHAM! instant mommy. Let me just throw in one major vote for NEVER using just condoms unless you don’t mind a “whoops” here and there.

I have an IUD now. It’s good for 10 full years, no worries, no remembering to take a pill every day or month or whatever they have nowadays.

Glad to see you looking after yourself already! :cool:

Oh yeah, and where I come from - people that use the “rythm method” are generally called parents.

I must point out that if you are using hormonal birth control, there is no “fertile period.” That’s kind of the point.

The Pill essentially keeps a woman’s body in a hormonal state like that of pregnancy, which suppresses ovulation entirely. If a woman is worried that it might not be completely effective for her, she could certainly gain some peace of mind by using a barrier method on top of it, but it would be impossible to even attempt using a method that involves predicting the time of ovulation - unless she’s been very negligent in taking her pills, there should be no ovulation at all, much less a predictable cycle of ovulation.

The Pill, when taken correctly, just about eliminates your chances of getting pregnant because it prevents you from ovulating. You don’t even have to be perfect about your schedule either–apparently, if you take two pills the next day, you can skip a day without having to worry about the effectiveness dropping. It’s pretty nice. You’d probably be fine with just the Pill. Since you’re using condoms too, I wouldn’t worry about it one bit.

Er… oh, yeah. Oops. Thanks for pointing that out.
I feel dumb.

You feel dumb??? I thought the Vikings had a lot more to do with the ph balance and quality of cervical mucous.

Live and learn.