What To Do If Your Birth Control Fails

Home pregnancy test

I've had the Paragard IUD for four+ years with zero issues. Insertion was a normal level of pain with no lingering effects. No misplacement and everything was perfect.

I got married and my period started on my honeymoon so I knew that everything was fine at that point.

OBGYN visit this morning confirmed I am about six weeks pregnant, which meant that I got pregnant shortly after the honeymoon. She can see the IUD and the cells in the ultrasound, but there are no strings and no amount of digging can find the device without forcing a miscarriage.

At this point, I'm at a 60-75% chance of miscarriage due to the fact that we cannot retrieve the device to be removed. The Husband and I decide that there's no way we can live with that kind of risk/fear of miscarriage and decide to terminate. It was the best decision for us considering the medical issues and our family situation.

The procedure is performed and successfully completed with the removal of the device. I've prescribed the Nuva Ring and start it within five days so that the effectiveness kicks in quickly.

How am I supposed to trust birth control again? I was using the most effective method in production and it failed me. The first time the Husband and I had sex post-procedure (about two weeks and a couple days, which was the recommended time), I had to stop after only a few moments because I was crying my eyes out with worry about the Nuva Ring and condoms we were using would fail.

I'm afraid that I can't have sex with him without this fear ruining it. 

Why Birth Control Can Fail

With the exception of abstinence, no method of birth control is perfect. Half of all unintended pregnancies occur while a couple is using birth control. Why? The main reason is that whatever the method, it isn't being used correctly. If you are sexually active but not ready to start a family, here are some important things to know about birth control failure and how to prevent it.

Types of Typical Use Errors

There are two types of typical use error when it comes to birth control:
  • Not following instructions. Condoms are a good example of how this can lead to birth control failure. It's important to make sure a condom fits correctly, for example, and to be careful when removing it. Whatever type of birth control you use, make certain you know how to use it. 
  • Forgetting or choosing not to use it. Let's say you're on birth control pills. It goes without saying, if you keep forgetting to take them or feel that it will be OK "just this once" to skip a pill, you're setting yourself up for unintended pregnancy. Create a fail-proof routine for popping your pills—store them next to your toothbrush so you're reminded every morning or switch to a contraceptive that you don't have to deal with on a daily basis, such as an IUD or implant. 

Other Factors That Can Lead to Birth Control Failure

Besides human error, there are other potential reasons a particular method of birth control might fail. For example, certain medications ranging from antibiotics and antidepressants to diabetes drugs can make birth control pills less effective. Even some natural herbs and supplements can interfere. Hormone-based birth control may not work as effectively in women who are overweight or obese either.

What To Do If Your Birth Control Fails

If you suspect something went wrong with your birth control right away—for example, the condom broke—you can greatly lower the risk of becoming pregnant by using emergency contraception. This is a pill you can buy over the counter, no matter your age, to take within three to five days of a birth control accident or after having unprotected sex.

Of course, it's not always possible to know right away if your birth control has failed. The possibility will only come up if you or your partner's period is late. In that case, take a home pregnancy test right away. You'll have your answer sooner rather than later and will know what to do: Relax if it's negative, or see a doctor to confirm if you really are pregnant.
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