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Contraception – Barrier Methods

Contraceptive Sponge - A disposable sponge containing spermicide that is placed at the cervix to absorb and kill sperm. Provides 12-hour protection, and you do not have to change the sponge if sex is repeated during this time. It cannot be re-used after being removed.Contraceptive Sponge

When used in combination with the male condom, the failure rate is only 2%.

The sponge can be purchased without a prescription at local drugstores (they are being re-introduced to the American market this fall, but have been available for some time in Canada and other parts of the world). It is not recommended as a stand alone contraceptive. It should always be used in combination with another form of birth control such as a male condom.

Some women find it difficult to remove the sponge, or forget to take it out all together. Some may also be allergic to the spermicide. By itself, the sponge will not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Diaphragm – A latex cap that covers the cervix and prevents sperm from swimming inside.

The diaphragm should always be used in combination with a foam spermicide, placed inside the diaphragm, to offer protection from pregnancy.Diaphragm Women can insert it before sex and it must be kept in place for at least 6 hours after last intercourse. It can be left in up to 24 hours, but not longer.

If used perfectly, the failure rate is 4-8%. In other words, if 100 women use it correctly for one year, four to eight of them will become pregnant.

You must make an appointment with your doctor to have a diaphragm fitted properly to your body. You will need to be refitted if you gain or lose a significant amount of weight or if you have been pregnant. A diaphragm will last for at least 2 years with proper care (washed with mild soap and warm water, rinsed and dried carefully, put back into its container away from light, etc…).

Some women find diaphragms difficult to insert at first, and others find that it doesn’t fit them right and that it can become dislodged. There is also a chance of developing a urinary tract infection while using it. It does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Cervical Cap - A deep latex cap that fits against the cervix and prevents sperm and bacteria from entering. It can be inserted before sex.Cervical Cap

When used perfectly, the probable rate of failure is about 10-13% per year, which means that if 100 women were to use it perfectly for one year, 10 to 13 would likely become pregnant. The failure rate may be higher for women who have already had a baby.

It doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and it must be used with spermicide, which kills sperm. A poor fit or latex allergy will prevent some women from using the cap. However, there are now some silicone versions available depending on your location.

Lea Contraceptive – A soft, silicone device is inserted into the vag

Lea Contraceptive

ina in front of the cervix to prevent sperm from entering. It is a reusable option that can be inserted hours before sex and offers 8 hours of protection. To increase effectiveness, it should be used with a spermicide – failure rates increase to 12.9% from 8.7% when used alone.

It doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and it is not overly effective if used without spermicide. Some women may also find it difficult to insert at first and it should be noted that if the male partner feels the Lea during sex it is not inserted properly.

Female Condom - A polyurethane sheath shaped Female Condomlike a round, upside-down baggie worn by women during sex. It holds in the sperm, preventing it from entering the vagina. It is the only contraceptive controlled by females that protects them from both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Used perfectly, the female condom has a failure rate of 5%.

Some women may have trouble inserting it correctly, and they can be expensive as compared to male condoms or other forms of contraception – around $3 each.

Male Condom - A latex sheath that is rolled over a man’s penis to prevent secretions (including semen) from entering the vagina. Condoms are a 97% effective contraceptive when used properly and consistently, and protect against most STIs. They are 88% effective with typical use.

Some men complain about lack of sensitivity. The condom may slip off during sex. Rough handling may cause the condom to break. Some men and women may be allergic to latex.

If a condom breaks or slips off during sex, you should contact your doctor or a clinic for emergency contraception as soon as possible.

Spermicide - Note: This is not a barrier contraceptive but I wanted to include it with this article as it is mentioned as a partner to many of the barrier methods listed.Spermicide

Spermicide is a chemical called nonoxynol-9 comes in the form of cream, gel, foam, film, or suppository (only for use with diaphragms and other cup like contraceptives). By inserting spermicide in front of the cervix in the vagina, it destroys sperm on contact. Spermicides should be used along with another method of contraception, such as a condom, because they are not highly effective alone.

Along with protecting against pregnancy, spermicide also protects against bacterial infections and pelvic inflammatory disease. It can also be used as an emergency method, if inserted immediately after you have an accident with your primary contraception. It offers some protection against STIs, like chlamydia.

Spermicide can be messy. You have to insert spermicide right before sex, because it’s usually only effective for one hour. It may irritate the entrance of the vagina or the tip of the penis. Using a spermicide alone can increase your risk of HIV transmission, so only use it with a steady partner.

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