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Mera. 2008 Sep; iii-vi.When a woman chooses a contraceptive method, effectiveness is often the most important characteristic she considers. Knowing the risks and benefits of each method, including its effectiveness, is necessary for a woman to make a truly informed decision. Yet, many women do not understand how well various methods protect against pregnancy. Health professionals usually explain effectiveness by informing women of the expected pregnancy rates for each method during perfect use (when the method is used consistently and correctly) and during more typical use (such as when a woman forgets to take all of her pills). However, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recently endorsed a simple evidence-based chart that healthcare providers can use to help women understand the relative effectiveness of different methods -- a concept that is much easier for most people to grasp. Key points of this article are: 1) Clinicians play an important role in ensuring that women understand the concept of effectiveness -- a key element of informed choice; 2) Women are able to understand the relative effectiveness of contraceptive methods more easily than the absolute effectiveness of a particular method; and 3) A new chart that places the methods on a continuum from least to most effective can help health professionals better communicate about contraceptive effectiveness.