- Birth Control Slideshow Pictures
- Think You Know Birth Control? Quiz
- Sex-Drive Killers Slideshow: Causes of Low Libido
What is barrier contraception?
Contraception refers to any measures you take to prevent sexual intercourse from resulting in pregnancy. The barrier method of contraception prevents the fertilization of the egg (ovum) by blocking the passage of the sperm into the cervix with a physical device, or by destroying the sperm cell membrane with spermicide.
What is the best contraceptive?
The definition of ‘best’ contraceptive is different for every individual and is also likely to change for a person from time to time. Some techniques may need a combination of contraceptive methods to be effective.
An individual’s choice of contraception may depend on factors that include:
- Noncontraceptive benefits
- Personal considerations
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that condoms should be freely available to adolescents, along with sexual counseling. While sexual abstinence may be desirable until adulthood, educating adolescents on the necessity and correct use of condoms has shown in many circumstances to reduce incidence of unwanted pregnancies and STIs in given populations.
What are the barrier methods of contraception?
Following are the barrier methods of contraception:
Efficacy: The approximate failure rate of male condoms in the first year of correct and consistent use is 3%, which rises to 14% in typical use. The primary reason for failure is incorrect condom usage such as:
- Incorrect placement
- Failure to use with every intercourse.
- Failure to use throughout intercourse duration
- Improper lubricant use with latex condoms
- Poor withdrawal technique
- Male condoms may prevent pregnancy as well as protect against transmission of STDs.
- They are readily available and usually not expensive.
- Condoms may possibly reduce sexual pleasure.
- People allergic to latex products cannot use latex condoms, though other condom materials like vinyl are available for people with this allergy.
- Condoms can break or slip during intercourse.
- Oil-based lubricants can damage the condom.
The female condom is a new technique. Fewer than one percent of American women use it. FC2 is a female condom that is made of synthetic nitrile, which consists of two flexible rings placed on either end of a lubricated nitrile sheath. The ring at the closed end is placed inside the vaginal canal while the other ring remains outside.
Efficacy: Initial trials show a 15% pregnancy rate in 6 months.
- Female condoms provide some protection to the labia and penis base.
- Do not get damaged by oil-based lubricants.
- Can be inserted up to eight hours before intercourse.
- Female condom is difficult to place and may cause discomfort.
- Does not have a spermicidal lubricant.
- May cause urinary infection if left in place for long periods.
The diaphragm is a shallow silicone cup that is inserted inside the vaginal canal to cover the cervix. Diaphragms are custom-made to fit each woman who uses them. The diaphragm’s dome is coated with a spermicidal jelly, which is effective for up to six hours and can be reapplied.
The diaphragm should remain in place for six hours after intercourse to be effective, but should be taken out within 24 hours and cleansed thoroughly before reuse. Diaphragms should be replaced every two years.
Efficacy: Efficacy of the diaphragm depends on the user’s experience and proper use of spermicide. The approximate typical-use failure rate within the first year is 20%.
Advantages: Contraception can be controlled by the woman and the diaphragm can be placed well ahead of time, when intercourse is anticipated.
- Requirement of proper fitting and training for use.
- Risk of urinary infection with prolonged use during multiple acts of intercourse.
- Risk of toxic shock syndrome if left in longer than 24 hours.
- Poorly fitted diaphragm may cause vaginal erosion.
- May develop an odor if not properly cleansed.
The cervical cap is a cap-shaped latex device that fits over the base of the cervix. The cap is partly filled with a spermicide for best results. It can be inserted up to eight hours before intercourse, and can be left in place for 48 hours.
Efficacy: Efficacy depends on the shape of the cervix, which can change in a woman who has given birth (parous). With perfect use in the first year, the failure rate is 9% in women who have not given birth (nulliparous) and 20% in parous women. With typical use, the failure rate is 20% in nulliparous women and 40% in parous women.
Advantages: Provides continuous protection up to 48 hours for multiple instances of sexual intercourse, without re-application of spermicide.
- High failure rate.
- Requirement of proper fitting and training for use.
- Cervical erosion leading to vaginal spotting.
- Risk of toxic shock syndrome if left in longer than 48 hours.
- Cannot use if Pap test results or not normal.
Spermicides contain octoxynol or nonoxynol-9, which are chemicals that destroy the sperm cell’s membrane. They are used with a base such as:
- Vaginal foams
- Foaming tablets
Spermicides must be inserted into the vagina before every intercourse.
Efficacy: The approximate failure rate with perfect use within the first year is 6%, which increases to 26% for typical use.
- Ease of application and availability at low cost.
- The lubrication from spermicides may heighten pleasure.
- Increased efficacy with diaphragms and cervical caps.
- Toxic to lactobacilli, the normal bacteria that keeps the vagina healthy. This increases the risk of STDs and harmful bacterial infections such as Escherichia coli.
- Usually needs to be placed vaginally 10 to 15 minutes before intercourse.
- Insertion may be uncomfortable and a mood-spoiler.
- Some people may have irritation, or allergic reaction to spermicides.
- Spermicide’s effects last less than an hour.
Contraception is the prevention of pregnancy before and/or after vaginal intercourse. The barrier method of contraception prevents the fertilization of the egg (ovum) by blocking the passage of the sperm into the cervix with a physical device, or by destroying the sperm cell membrane with spermicide.
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
Choosing Your Birth Control Method
What are your birth control options? Learn about birth control side effects and effectiveness. Discover birth control methods...
Birth Control Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
What is the best form of birth control? Take this quiz to find out about hormonal, surgical, barrier, and natural methods!
Related Disease Conditions
Birth Control Options
Birth control is available in a variety of methods and types. The method of birth control varies from person to person, and their preferences to either become pregnant or not. Examples of barrier methods include barrier methods (sponge, spermicides, condoms), hormonal methods (pill, patch), surgical sterilization (tubal ligation, vasectomy), natural methods, and the morning after pill. Side effects and risks of each birth control option should be reviewed prior to using any birth control method.
Birth Control Pill vs. Depo-Provera Shot
Birth control pills (oral contraceptives) and the Depo-Provera shot are two hormonal methods of birth control. Both methods work by changing the hormone levels in your body, which prevents pregnancy, or conception. Differences between "the pill" and "the shot." Birth control pills are available as combination pills, which contain the hormones estrogen and progestin, or mini-pills that only contain progestin. In comparison to the Depo-Provera injection, which prevents pregnancy for three consecutive months. Both methods of birth control are very effective in preventing pregnancy. Both the combination pill (if you take them as directed) and shot are up to 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. While the mini-pill is only about 95% effective in preventing pregnancy. Both methods cause weight gain, and have other similar side effects like breast pain, soreness or tenderness, headaches, and mood changes. They may lead to decreased interest in sex in some women. There are differences between the other side effects of these methods (depending upon the method) that include breakthrough bleeding or spotting, acne, depression, fatigue, and weakness. Both oral contraceptives and the Depo-Provera shot have health risks associated with them, such as, heart attack, stroke, blood clots, and cervical cancer. Birth control pills appear to increase the risk of cervical cancer. Talk with your OB/GYN or other doctor or health care professional about which birth control method is right for you.
How Do Female Condoms Feel?
A female condom is a barrier method of contraception. Female condoms are not tight on the penis, and they don’t inhibit or dull sensation like male condoms. Hence, it is believed that they feel more natural compared to wearing male condoms.
DVT and Birth Control Pills (Oral Contraceptives)
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that has traveled deep into the veins of the arm, pelvis, or lower extremities. Oral contraceptives or birth control pills can slightly increase a woman's risk for developing blood clots, including DVT. DVT symptoms and signs in the leg include leg or calf pain, redness, swelling, warmth, or leg cramps, and skin discoloration. If a blood clot in the leg is not treated, it can travel to the lungs, which can cause a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung) or post-thrombotic syndrome, both of which can be fatal if not treated immediately. Increased risk factors for DVT and birth control pills include over 40 years of age, family history, smoking, and obesity. Other medical problems that increase the risks of blood clots, for example, lung or heart disease, or inflammatory bowel disease or IBD (Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis (UC). Other options for preventing pregnancy include IUDs, birth control shots, condoms, diaphragms, and progestin-only oral contraceptives.
Treatment & Diagnosis
Medications & Supplements
- Birth Control Pills (List of Oral Contraceptives and Side Effects)
- Birth Control Pills vs. Nuvaring
- Birth control pills (oral contraceptives) vs. Plan B (levonorgestrel)
- Birth Control Pills vs. Condoms
- Birth Control Pills (Oral Contraceptives) vs. Patch (Ortho Evra)
- Birth Control Pills (Oral Contraceptive) vs. Depo-Provera (medroxyprogesterone injection)
Prevention & Wellness
Latest Sexual Health News
Daily Health News
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.