most common form of barrier method of contraception in the male
condom. The male condom is a latex barrier that is placed on the
insertion into the vagina, catching sperm upon ejaculation. The
condom is easily purchased in pharmacies and other stores, costs
and is fairly simple to use. Some agencies and doctors’ offices
distribute free condoms. When a condom is used correctly, it has
a high percentage of effectiveness. However, it’s easy to apply
a condom incorrectly and allow leakage and even breakage. If latex
allergies could prevent you from using a condom, you may seek out
an alternative method of barrier birth control such as non-latex
condoms. Unlike other forms of contraception, the condom will be
effective in preventing STDs. As a woman, you should never leave
it up to the man to provide a condom. If you are sexually active,
carry your own condoms with you. If a man refuses to wear a condom,
or complains about a “loss of sensation,” you shouldn’t
have sex with him. Contraception is a mutual responsibility for
Some women prefer to use the female condom. This
form of barrier contraception that can be bought over the counter
pharmacies. The female condom is a plastic pouch that fits inside
your vagina. It has a soft ring on each end. The outer ring stays
on the outside of the vagina and partly covers the labia (lips).
The inner ring fits on the inside of the vagina, somewhat like
a diaphragm, to hold the condom in place. When used correctly,
female condom is highly effective in protecting against STDs and
pregnancy. However, the female condom is difficult to insert, may
irritate your sensitive vagina, and can slip inside of the vagina
during intercourse if not secured. Because of a prevalence of misuse,
the female condom has a low rate of effectiveness.
Some women use
spermicide to protect against pregnancy. Spermicide will not protect
you against STDs. In fact, spermicide also has
a low effectiveness in protecting against pregnancy. It is best
use spermicide along with another form of barrier method, as added
security. Spermicide comes in many forms—jellies, creams
and suppositories—and is applied deep into the vagina shortly
before intercourse. Spermicide paralyzes sperm and tries to prevent
from joining the egg. In addition to being ineffective, spermicides
are also messy and can irritate the sex organs of both you and
The diaphragm is a barrier method of contraception
available by prescription and through a special fitting from your
a thin rubber “dome” with a flexible rim that is inserted
in the vagina and fits over the cervix. The diaphragm is held in
place by your vaginal muscles. Diaphragms are designed to hold
spermicide and must remain in place for 6-8 hours after intercourse
to optimize effectiveness. The diaphragm cannot be inserted more
than 2 hours before intercourse because the spermicide only lasts
for 2 hours. The diaphragm needs to be cleaned and handled with
care. The diaphragm may lead to certain infections, including urinary
infections. Your fit needs to be carefully monitored by your doctor
to ensure effectiveness. The diaphragm does not protect against
STDs, and is not highly effective in preventing pregnancy either.
have intercourse more than once, do not remove the diaphragm, just
add more spermicide.
The cervical cap is a latex, thimble-shaped
apparatus that is inserted into the vagina and fits over the cervix.
The cervical cap is intended
to block sperm from entering the uterus. It should be left in place
after intercourse for 8 hours, to ensure effectiveness. Cervical
caps are not highly effective in preventing pregnancy and will
not protect against STDs. The cervical cap is not for everyone.
have already given birth, the effectiveness of the cervical cap
as a method of birth control is greatly reduced.
important that you do not share your prescription barrier methods,
such as the cervical cap and the diaphragm, with
other women. They need to be fitted to your particular size in
order to be effective, plus this can pass around unwanted bacteria
is generally unclean.
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