How to Choose Contraception

The Beginner's Guide to Barrier Methods

October 28, 2018

You’ve already learned of condoms, but do you know about these other contraceptives called barrier methods? Like condoms, obstruction methods stop the passage of bodily fluids from 1 person to another. Here’s what to know about condoms and other types of barrier methods.

Man Condom

The male condom is a sheath placed over the erect penis before penetration, preventing pregnancy by blocking the passage of sperm.

Since they act as a mechanical barrier, condoms stop direct vaginal contact with semen, infectious genital secretions, and genital lesions, and discharges.

Most condoms are made from latex rubber, while a tiny percentage are made from lamb intestines (sometimes called”lambskin” condoms). Condoms may also be created from a kind of plastic called polyurethane, and it can be a fantastic option for people that are sensitive to latex. Except for abstinence, latex condoms are the most effective way of reducing the risk of infection from viruses that cause AIDS, other HIV-related disorders, and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Female Condom

The female condom is made up of lubricated polyurethane sheath shaped similarly to the male condom. The closed end, which has a flexible ring, is inserted into the vagina, while the open end remains outside, partially covering the labia. The female condom, like the male condom, can be obtained without a prescription and is intended for one-time usage only.

It should not be used together using a male condom as they might slip out of place.


A diaphragm can be obtained only by prescription and must be sized by a health professional to achieve a correct fit. It’s a dome-shaped rubber disk with a flexible rim that covers the cervix so sperm can not get to the uterus.

Before inserting the diaphragm, then you need to apply a spermicide cream or jelly as an excess precaution. A diaphragm will protect for six hours after it is inserted.

For sex after the six-hour interval, or for repeated intercourse within this period, fresh spermicide should be set in the vagina with the diaphragm still in place. The diaphragm should be left in place for six hours after the last sexual intercourse but not for longer than a total of 24 hours due to the risk of toxic shock syndrome. The diaphragm can be powerful when used correctly but has a higher failure rate than oral contraceptives.

Cervical Caps

A silicone cup shaped like a sailor’s hat, a cervical cap is inserted into the vagina and over the cervix. The only accessible brand available in the U.S. is FemCap. A cervical cap ought to be used with spermicide cream or jelly for optimum effectiveness. Like all types of birth control, it’s most effective when utilized properly, and is 86 percent effective in preventing pregnancy for women who have never been pregnant or given birth vaginally. For girls who have given birth vaginally, the cervical cap is 71 percent effective.

Dental Dams

Initially utilized in dental procedures, dental dams are small, thin and square pieces of latex which can be used for oral sex.

They help reduce transmission of STIs by acting as a barrier to vaginal and anal secretions which could contain bacteria and viruses.

The Sponge

The contraceptive sponge is soft, round piece of plastic foam that’s approximately two inches in diameter and contains spermicide. It is inserted deep into the vagina prior to sex and contains a nylon loop attached for removal. The Today Sponge is the only brand that can be found on the U.S. market. It is a safe, easy-to-use and cost-effective kind of contraception.

Bottom Line

There’s a barrier method for each taste. Whatever form of birth control you select, remember they are only effective when used properly.

(Notice: Just dental dams and condoms are recommended agents of HIV transmission prevention.)