Would you believe it if we told you that contraceptives date back to ancient civilizations in Crete and Egypt? At the time, the bladder of certain animals was used to create condoms. Greek literature, even as old as 3000 BCE, discusses a female condom.

Just because the idea of contraception is ancient does not mean it was effective, at least not the way it is today. In the age of postmodernism, more than one form of contraception is available for family planning.

Have you ever wondered how contemporary contraceptives fare against their ancient counterparts? As per the Cleveland Clinic, most contraceptives can prevent pregnancy by 99% when used correctly. Still, the wounds of reality can cut deep. In other words, the efficacy rate falls to 91%.

Still a good score, right? The problem with birth control is not usually its efficacy. In this article, we will discuss why effectiveness is not the only factor in choosing a contraceptive.

Types of Contraceptives and Their Effectiveness

Ours is not the time when a singular form of contraceptive is the only hope. The market is full of options to prevent pregnancy, including the following most commonly used.

Intrauterine Devices (Hormonal/Non-Hormonal)

Also called IUD, an intrauterine device appears to be a small T-shaped tool that is implanted inside the vagina by a healthcare provider. Planned Parenthood claims that this device is so effective that it can prevent pregnancy 99% of the time.

This means only 1 in every 100 women would get pregnant each year despite using the device. Once implanted, IUDs can act as a contraceptive for years. They can be both hormonal and non-hormonal. The principle is still the same – stop the sperm from fertilizing the egg.

The Pill (Hormonal)

It is a small tablet that must be consumed at the same time every day for maximum efficacy. The pill is said to have a success rate of 93%. It is hormonal, which means it releases hormones like progestin and others to prevent pregnancy.

What happens is that the hormones stop the ovaries from releasing the eggs. Also, the sperm cannot enter the uterus due to thickened cervical mucus.

Condoms (Non-Hormonal)

Condoms have a somewhat lower efficacy rate compared to the previous two contraception methods (87%). They are a non-hormonal form of birth control, available in polyurethane and latex materials.

They are generally placed over the penis to block the sperm from entering the vagina during ejaculation. Even female condoms are available that must be inserted inside the vagina. This contraceptive is among the most affordable and also protects against STDs.

Safety of Intrauterine Devices Called to Question

As we observed, intrauterine devices are claimed to have the highest efficacy rate. Not only that but they can stay put for years. However, these devices’ safety can be a matter of concern. One such case is that of the Paragard IUD.

Produced largely by CooperSurgical and Teva Pharmaceuticals, the Paragard IUD is a copper-based T-shaped non-hormonal IUD. The companies claimed that the device can prevent conception for at least 10 years.

However, women have criticized them severely for serious injuries. TorHoerman Law shares that the device does not stay securely in its implanted location. Adverse events have been reported where the device breaks apart and migrates to other parts of the body.

The injuries are attributed to structural defects with the Paragard IUD. Affected women sued the two companies under the Paragard lawsuit. Some of the most common injuries include heavy bleeding, uterine wall perforation, ectopic pregnancy, and pelvic inflammatory disease.

As of May 2024, over 2,500 cases have been filed in this litigation. No global settlements have been made yet. Lawyers anticipate the average settlement amounts to range between $10,000 and $400,000.

Are There Safer Alternatives?

If a woman were to ask whether any form of contraceptive is completely effective, one could still name one or two. Sadly, the same cannot be said of any contraceptive’s safety aspect. If all goes well, there should be nothing to worry about.

However, if things spiral downward, there’s no telling what the consequences can be. The most effective and safest form of birth control is abstinence. The Cleveland Clinic states that it’s the only way to 100% protect oneself from STDs.

We understand that women may need some form of birth control for family planning. It is best to proceed with caution and review all available options. Keep in mind that the Paragard IUD has not been recalled yet. This does not make it safe as women continue to file lawsuits against Paragard manufacturers.

In any case, hormonal contraceptives can have long-term health repercussions in the form of breast cancer, liver disorders, and cardiovascular disease. The only safe way forward is to not be hasty in making a decision.