Nowadays most couples use contraception regularly for unplanned pregnancy prevention. On-going evolution of contraceptive technology allows sexually active couples to choose the most effective and most comfortable method of contraception depending on health indicators, personal circumstances, financial abilities and sexual activities. Modern market is full of different types of contraception. Special attention should be paid to barrier contraception especially if prevention of sexually transmitted infections is needed or if hormonal contraception is contraindicated.
In general, all methods of barrier contraception create physical barrier between sperm and mature fertile egg – barrier created in vagina preventing active spermatozoids to reach egg which exclude the possibility of fertilization. Actually barrier contraception stops sperm in vagina and prevents further journey up the reproductive canal (cervix – uterus – Fallopian tubes). It prevents contact between sperm and ovulated (released) egg.
In most cases there is no contraindication for using barrier contraception except of personal allergy to latex and some chemicals (lubricants, spemicides). At the same time, some barrier methods of contraception can prevent sexually transmitted diseases (not possible during other types of contraception).
Main methods of barrier contraception include spermicides, diaphragms, cervical caps, male condoms and female condoms.
Top 5 barrier contraception – spermicides
Spermicides are specific chemical contraceptive products (nonoxynol-9 or others) which are able to kill active spermatozoids in vagina. Spermicides come in form of jelly, foam or cream. Spermicides prevent contact between sperm and mature ovulated egg. Actually spermicides stop sperm from reaching ovulated egg by setting up specific chemical block in cervix. Spermicides trap sperm in foam or gel barrier and destroy all active spermatozoids.
Some spermicides pretend preventing also sexually transmitted infections which could be the best solution for contraception. In general, spermicides are cheap, safe, easy to use and pretty effective. It is easy to use selected spermicide – it should be inserted into vagina each time before sexual contact.
Contraceptice spermicides can be effective up to 78-80% cases. The failure rate can be up 28%.
Top 5 barrier contraception
Absence of hormonal component;
Different forms (jelly, foam, cream) for personal convenience and comfort;
Can be used without medical support;
Never interrupt intercourse.
Could cause irritation or allergic reactions;
Effective for limited period of time;
Cannot prevent sexually transmitted diseases;
Should be inserted into vagina each time before sexual contact (less than 20 minutes in advance).
Top 5 barrier contraception – contraceptive diaphragm
Contraceptive diaphragm is a circular dome (shallow bendable cup) made of thin, soft silicone – it should be inserted into vagina before sexual contact. Contraceptive diaphragm covers cervix and prevents movement of spermatozoids into uterus. Diaphragm acts as mechanical barrier between sperm and ovulated egg – spermatozoids are stopped in vagina and further journey through reproductive tract becomes impossible. Contraceptive diaphragm effectiveness (if inserted correctly) can reach 90-95%.
Contraceptive diaphragm fits inside the vagina, fixed on cervix and prevents sperm passing through cervix. It is recommended to use it with specific gel which can kill sperm and which increase contraceptive effect.
Contraceptive diaphragm advantages:
Absence of health risks;
Can be used only if sexual contact planned (best solution for irregular rare contacts);
It can be inserted few hours before planned sexual contact.
Contraceptive diaphragm disadvantages:
Size of diaphragm should be properly selected and always should be adapted (after weight changes, after abortion or delivery);
You need to learn how correctly insert the diaphragm;
It doesn’t provide reliable prevention of sexually transmitted infections;
Diaphragm cannot be left more than 6 hours and shouldn’t be used during menstrual periods – risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS);
You always should have diaphragm with you (in accessible place);
Could trigger bladder infections (cystitis).
Top 5 barrier contraception – cervical cap
Cervical cap is little soft silicone cup which can cover only entrance to cervix (cervical contraception). Women should learn how properly insert cervical cap which can prevent sperm from moving into the uterus. Added spermicides can increase contraceptive effectiveness of cervical caps. Cervical cap is smaller than contraceptive diaphragms and the shape is a little different – diaphragm is shaped like a dish and cervical cap has a shape of sailor’s hat. They both are more effective with spermicides and they both cover cervix and prevent sperm movement through reproductive tract.
Cervical cap advantages:
It is easy to use once you learn how to be inserted;
Cervical caps can be left on cervix longer than contraceptive diaphragms (up to 2 days);
Contraceptive cervical caps are small, portable, reusable and free of hormones;
Cervical caps don’t interrupt sexual contacts.
Cervical cap disadvantages:
Cervical cap cannot prevent sexually transmitted infections;
Size of cervical cap should be properly selected by doctor and should be adapted in cases of weight changes, abortion or delivery;
Cervical cap should be inserted every time before sexual contact;
Cervical caps can get moved out of place during intercourse.
Top 5 barrier contraception – male condoms
Male condom is most popular and most effective method of contraception – it can prevent not only unplanned pregnancies but also sexually transmitted diseases. Male condom is a thin sheath made of latex, natural animal membrane, polyurethane, silicone or other synthetic material that fits over the erected organ. Male condoms can vary greatly in color, size, specific elements and type of lubrication or spermicides. Male condom keeps ejaculated sperm inside of synthetic sac (preventing further movement through cervix).
Male condom also should be used correctly (properly). Quality of male condoms is very important. Male condom effectiveness is up to 98%.
Male condoms advantages:
Cheap and easy to use;
Provides prevention from sexually transmitted infections;
Can be easily obtained without any prescription.
Male condoms disadvantages:
Required attention during each sexual contact;
Can reduce male sensation;
Could cause allergic reaction from latex;
Some condoms could break.
Top 5 barrier contraception – female condoms
Female condoms are very similar to male condoms – providing pregnancy prevention as well as prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. Female condoms are made from very soft plastic material called “nitrile” (hypo allergic product) which doesn’t irritate sensitive genital skin. Female condom should be inserted into vagina – they fully cover vagina and prevent contacts with sperm and any other microbes or viruses. Female condoms offer convenience and control.
Female condoms advantages:
Female condom effectiveness up to 95%;
Female condoms are small, comfortable and discreet;
Female condoms are easy to use with a little practice;
Female condoms are latex free.
Female condoms disadvantages:
Female condom should be used every time before sexual contact;
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Disclaimer: It is strongly recommended to consult your doctor for professional advice. Above mentioned information and recommendations are just general and should be adapted to each person according to personal health indicators and status.