Barrier birth control methods prevent sperm from reaching the egg
Barrier birth control methods are affordable and convenient, and most methods don’t require a prescription. They are also widely available in drugstores and other retail outlets. Our Southlake ObGyns, with offices in Fort Worth and Grapevine, want women to understand that to be effective these methods must be used correctly every time a woman has sex. Barrier birth control methods are less effective than other birth control methods such as birth control pills or IUDs.
Benefits of using barrier birth control methods
Barrier birth control methods offer the following benefits:
- No effect on natural female hormones
- No effect on milk supply while breastfeeding
- All methods, other than the male condom, can be in place hours before sex
- Widely available without a prescription (except the diaphragm)
- Latex and polyurethane male condoms protect against STIs, and female condoms provide some protection
Types of barrier birth control methods
There are four commonly used barrier birth control methods in the United States:
Male condoms are available in latex, lambskin or polyurethane styles in lubricated and non-lubricated forms. The male condom is worn over the erect penis.
Female condoms are barrier birth control methods that are inserted inside the vagina up to eight hours before intercourse. Female condoms should not be used at the same time as male condoms.
“Out of 100 women per year, 18 to 28 women will become pregnant when using barrier methods.”
–The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Diaphragms are the only type of the barrier birth control methods that require a physical and a fitting by our ObGyns. A woman inserts this dome-like silicone device inside her vagina where it covers the cervix. Before insertion, women add spermicide to the device. Diaphragms need to remain in place for six hours after sex, but never left in for more than 24 hours at one time.
Sponges are soft foam devices that contain spermicides. They are inserted into the vagina; like female condoms and diaphragms, sponges cover the cervix. These barrier birth control methods can be inserted up to 24 hours before sexual intercourse and need to remain in place at least six hours afterwards, but no longer than 30 hours total time.
Spermicides are available as foam, cream, gel, film or suppositories, most containing nonoxynol-9 that deactivates sperm. They can be used alone or with condoms and diaphragms to improve effectiveness.
You should also know that diaphragms and sponges can increase the risk of contracting HIV. Our ObGyns suggest using these barrier birth control methods only if you are in a monogamous relationship with a partner who does not have HIV. These devices can also cause toxic shock syndrome, so it’s important not to leave the devices in longer than recommended.