For information about contraception, pregnancy options and sexual health in Victoria

3 ways to prevent contraception FAILS

on 06 Apr 2021 5:03 AM
Photo by Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition on Unsplash

Contraceptive failure is one of the biggest causes of unplanned pregnancy.1 It’s estimated that over half of all Australians requesting an abortion were using some form of contraception at the time.2  So what causes contraception to fail, and what can we do about it?

“Perfect” vs “Typical” use

There are many different types of contraception, and each have different levels of efficacy. Unfortunately, no contraception is 100% effective all the time. However, there is also a difference between their level of efficacy given “perfect” use (when used correctly all the time), and “typical” use (what happens in real life), as seen in the chart below:

Basically, “typical” use can be much less effective than “perfect” use. This is mainly due to human error - or external factors, such as:

Practice makes perfect

One way you can reduce your risk of contraceptive failure is to try to address any areas for human error. For example, you could:

Two is better than one

Another way you can improve your chances of preventing unwanted pregnancies would be to use 2 different methods of contraception - a hormonal method with a non-hormonal method. For example, this could look like:

LARCs – typically perfect!

However, you can see above that there are some methods of contraception (aside from permanent sterilisation) where the “typical” use rate is nearly the same as the “perfect” use rate. These contraception methods are known as LARCs – Long Acting Reversible Contraception. 
Once they are correctly installed, LARCs are not affected by user error. They last a very long time, and because they are so low maintenance, are often described as “set and forget” methods. 
LARCs available in Victoria include:

LARCs are the most efficient way to prevent pregnancy. For information about LARC services near you, or all contraception and pregnancy options services – please contact 1800 My Options on 1800 696 784 (weekdays, 10am – 4pm) or email

Trussell J. Understanding contraceptive failure. Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol. 2009;23(2):199-209. doi:10.1016/j.bpobgyn.2008.11.008
Marie Stopes International. Real Choices: Women, Contraception and Unp