image
emma goldman clinic title
Barrier Methods

DIAPHRAGM
How does it work?

Diaphragms cover the cervix and this keeps sperm from getting to the egg. To increase effectiveness, spermicide is put into the diaphragm before it is placed over the cervix.

The diaphragm must be left in place for 6 hours after ejaculation of seminal fluid into the vagina to allow time for sperm to die. The diaphragm can be left in place for up to 24 hours at a time.
Diaphragms come in a variety of sizes, so you must be seen by a health practitioner to be fit for one.photo


How effective is it?
Diaphragm effectiveness is 82% to 94%.

What's good about the diaphragm?

  • It gives some protection against STIs.
  • There are fewer side effects than hormone birth control and intrauterine devices (IUDs).

What's not good about the diaphragm?

  • It may be hard for some women to get it in and out of the vagina.
  • You must use it every time you have sex and remember to put it in.
  • You are at an increased risk for getting urinary tract infections because you can't empty the bladder as well especially if the diaphragm is too large.

CERVICAL CAP
photo
How does it work?

Caps cover the cervix and this keeps sperm from getting to the egg.

Spermicide is put into the cap before it is placed over the cervix. This increases effectiveness.

The cap must be left in place for 8 hours after ejaculation of seminal fluid into the vagina to allow time for sperm to die. The cap can be left in place for up to 2 days at a time.

Cervical caps come in a variety of sizes, so you must be seen by a health practitioner to be fit for one.

How effective is it?
The range of cap effectiveness is 90 to 97% if used with every intercourse.  It can drop to 85% when not used with every intercourse.

What's good about the cap?

  • Cervical Caps have fewer and less serious side effects than birth control pills and IUDs.
  • Their maximum effectiveness is about the same as other methods.
  • They can be worn up to 2 days at a time without adding more spermicide, and cervical caps are a birth control method controlled by the woman.

What's not good about the cap?

  • It may be hard for some women to get the cap in and out of the vagina.
  • It may be difficult to find a health practitioner to fit you for the cap.
  • You must remember to use it every time you have sex.
  • Cervical caps can develop an unpleasant odor when cap is left in place too long.
  • A few women have dislodging during intercourse, and sometimes it can be inconvenient to check cap before and after intercourse.

Other cervical cap/diaphragm related barrier methods:

FEMALE CONDOM
How does it work?
photo
Female condoms cover the cervix and the vagina. They also cover part of the external genitals. They keep sperm from getting to the egg.
The condom may be put into the vagina up to 8 hours before sex and removed right after sex.

How effective is it?
The female condom is about 79% to 95% effective. These are early studies and effectiveness is expected to improve as people become more experienced in using the method.

What's good about the female condom?

  • It gives good protection against STIs.
  • There are fewer side effects than with hormone birth control and intrauterine devices (IUDs).
  • It does not require a prescription, and it can be bought at some clinics and drug stores.

What's not good about the female condom?

  • It may be hard for some women to get the inside ring into the vagina.
  • You must remember to use it every time you have sex.
  • Some people may think it is hard to get the penis into the condom opening.
  • Female condoms can also be a bit expensive. Usually they start at $3 a piece.

MALE CONDOM
How does it work?
photo
Male condoms cover the penis which protects the cervix and the vagina.

They keep sperm from getting to the egg and also give some protection against STIs.

The condom must be put on the penis when it is erect and removed right after sex while still erect. The man should hold onto the base of the condom while he pulls out, to help prevent any spilling out of sperm. Adding a drop or more of (non oil based) lube on the inside of the condom and on the outside of the condom can make sex more comfortable and help decrease the chance of a condom tearing. Condoms should be kept in a dry, cool place (not in a wallet or pants pocket where the package and latex could get worn down).

How effective is it?
The male condom is about 88% to 97% effective.

What's good about the male condom?

  • It gives some protection against STIs, more than either the cap or diaphragm. They can be bought over the counter without a prescription.
  • Male partner is taking responsibility for the birth control method.
  • There are fewer side effects than hormone birth control and intrauterine devices (IUDs).
  • Latex male condoms are also very inexpensive. While prices vary, the Emma Goldman Clinic sells them at 8 for $1. Non-latex condoms (for people with latex allergies) are much more expensive. Again, they vary in price, starting at $1.50 a piece.

What's not good about the male condom?

  • Some men do not want to use condoms. They say it decreases sensation.
  • You must use it every time you have sex.
  • You must leave a space at the tip for seminal fluid.
image