Barrier methods of contraception block the sperm from reaching an egg to prevent pregnancy. Barrier methods consist of a range of devices and medically formulated substances. Some barrier methods have the advantage of also preventing the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
General Overview Of The Types Of Barrier Contraceptives
If you want to use a barrier contraceptive, there are a wide range of products available. Many of them are affordable and readily available without a prescription from your pharmacy, grocery store and convenience store. Those types are:
- Male condom. Male condoms are the most common barrier method. Condoms are available made of latex, polyurethane, or lambskin. Most condoms are treated with a silicone, water-based gel, or spermicidal coating. Male condoms are used by wrapping them over the penis. When the male discharges semen, the condom contains it and blocks it from entering your vagina. Using a condom with each act of sexual intercourse is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of STDs.
- Female condom. The female condom is a thin membrane that you must place inside of your vagina no more than eight hours before having sex. If you use a female condom, you should not use a male condom. Like male condoms, female condoms help prevent the spread of STDs.
- Contraceptive sponge. A contraceptive sponge is a small, round sponge that you place in your vagina near your cervix before sex. It is infused with a spermicidal substance. The sponge helps block sperm from reaching your cervix and kills sperm that comes into contact with the sponge. You can have sex more than once with the sponge left in place. You can leave the sponge in place for up to 24 hours.
- Vaginal spermicide. Vaginal spermicides kill sperm or inhibit sperm from reaching an egg. You can find spermicides in the form of creams, jellies, foam, tablets, or vaginal suppositories. If you use a tablet or suppository, you must insert it into your vagina about 30 minutes before having sex. Other forms are inserted just before sex. Spermicides are most effective when used with other barrier methods. They start working up to 15 minutes after applying them and are effective for up to 60 minutes. You have to reapply spermicide before each act of sex. Also, you must leave it in place for at least 6 hours after you apply it.
Some barrier contraceptives require that you visit your healthcare provider to get it. They include:
- Diaphragm. A diaphragm is a soft latex rubber dome that covers your cervix to block sperm from reaching it. To get a diaphragm, you will need an appointment with your healthcare provider for an examination and fitting. You must leave the diaphragm in place during sex and for at least six hours afterward. An advantage of the diaphragm over a condom is you can have sex more than one time with the diaphragm left in place. However, you must remove your diaphragm within 24 hours after you have sex. The diaphragm helps prevent the spread of STDs.
- Cervical cap. The cervical cap is similar to a diaphragm. It is a small rubber cap that covers your cervix to block sperm from entering your uterus. You will need an appointment with your healthcare provider to get a cervical cap. You insert the cap before sex and leave it in place for up to eight hours afterward. Like the diaphragm, you can have sex more than one time with the cap left in place. However, you should remove it within 48 hours after having sex. It does not prevent STDs.
Drawbacks Of Barrier Contraceptives
Barrier methods of contraception are not as effective in preventing pregnancy as many hormonal methods of contraception. Barrier contraceptives are only about 70-75% effective. That means that of 100 women who use barrier contraceptives per year, around 20 or 25 of them will become pregnant. Barrier contraceptives are most effective when used correctly each time you have sex. The effectiveness of the device you use will be compromised if it tears, breaks or becomes dislodged during sex.
Even when used properly, however, they may not prevent pregnancy. Certain types of lubricants can damage the rubber material of the contraceptive device and render it less effective.
Another issue to be aware of with barrier contraceptives is you have a higher risk of getting a urinary tract infection. Also, some of the products can irritate your vagina and other areas of your pelvic region.
For any device that needs to be inserted into your vagina, you risk an incorrect fitting. Your fit can change with fluctuations in your weight or if you become pregnant, deliver a baby, or after pelvic surgery.
Contact the Specialists at Raleigh Gynecology and Wellness for More Information about Choosing the Best Contraceptive for Your Lifestyle
Barrier contraceptives are a popular form of birth control. They are convenient and affordable and many women use them as a form of back up birth control. To learn more about your options for contraceptive methods, contact the women’s health experts at Raleigh Gynecology and Wellness. They are available to answer your questions and schedule an appointment with one of their experienced professionals.