Dear Dr. Date,Would you be kind enough to clear something up? I was under the impression that the Pill is as (or more) effective than condoms in preventing pregnancy. I realize it does nothing to protect against disease, but I want to focus on pregnancy. Am I wrong in thinking the Pill is 99 percent effective in preventing pregnancy by itself if taken regularly and properly?As a side-note, I would like to emphasize the specific scenario so your answer can be most effective: I’m wondering about unprotected sex, in the absence of disease, with the protection of the Pill alone. What are the risks of pregnancy? I am pleading for an honest answer about that perceived 1 percent chance rather than a scary answer that will make people do what is “absolutely best”, (i.e. condom and Pill.)
Both the Pill and the latex condom are pretty smart ways to stop a pregnancy from happening. The Pill fools a woman’s body into thinking that it is already pregnant. Since it’s impossible to get pregnant when you are already pregnant, conception does not occur. Condoms are much simpler. All they do is block the sperm from entering a woman’s body. Used together, this is one of the best forms of birth control. But, it’s not the best. Not having sex is the best. But since you sound like you are already having sex, let’s deal with the possible problems.
The problem with condoms and the Pill is the people that use (or, more accurately, misuse) them. A condom is generally made of extremely flexible latex. But, latex can and does break. If a condom package has a break in it, this can dry out the condom and make failure a real possibility. In certain situations, condoms can be stretched, bunched or twisted to the point of breakage, too. You’ve also got to put the things on right or you greatly reduce the effectiveness. For instance, if you wait until after penetration to put on a condom, you increase your odds of sperm coming out and fertilizing your partner’s egg.
I hope these seem pretty straightforward. If you don’t use a condom correctly, it may not do what it is designed to do. The same exact situation exists with the birth control pill. If you don’t use it correctly, it won’t be as effective. For instance, if you miss just one day, the Pill won’t be as effective. Even if you take the Pill at different times each day, it won’t be as effective. Certain drug interactions can decrease the effectiveness of the Pill as well.