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What You Should Know about Barrier Birth Control Methods
We’ve started to practice preventing pregnancy long time ago, as long as human is living on earth. What is interesting about sex, that there’s thousands of ‘get-sex-free-of-consequences’ options. People do not tired of thinking beyond their imagination in this matter, and the history proves it. Starting with device for women that was made of crocodile dung and fermented dough (dating back to 1850 BC), and not ending with the plenty of new methods of contraception on certain stages of their trials.
What to choose? Does birth control method suit you best?
If you are sexually active and do not want to have children – you have to make some way. Agree, it may be rather difficult to decide which birth control method is best due to the variety of options available. In making decision you need to think over the efficacy of each method, of its convenience and affordability. What time is needed to return to fertility, what side effects and how frequent you may face them and what protection does each method give against sexually transmitted diseases (and does give any?). Only you and your partner together with your health care provider can decide the best method (in your personal situation) and help to define your preferences in contraception. Then you make your choice.
What’s the key point of it?
What do barrier methods of birth control do? They block sperm from entering the uterus and reaching the egg for fertilization. In other words they physically block sperm from making a woman pregnant.
What are they?
In the table you can see the most important short characteristics of the methods. These methods give the protection against sexually transmitted diseases.

Male condom
Female condom
What is it?
This is a latex or polyurethane sheath that fits over an erect penis before the penis enters the vagina
This is a non-prescription, pre-lubricated, pouch-like device that lines the walls of the vagina. It is made of polyurethane and has a soft ring at each end
Principle of working
A condom prevents pregnancy by containing sperm during intercourse. It prevents the sperm from entering the uterus and fertilizing the egg
The female condom acts as a barrier to prevent the sperm and egg from joining
Proper using for the best effectiveness
A new condom must be used every time an individual has intercourse
It can be inserted six hours prior to intercourse so it does not decrease spontaneity, each time the new one
88% - 98%
79% - 95%

1.      Male condom. Yes or no?
A condom is one of the best forms of protection against sexually transmitted infections (STI or STD). And as a method of contraception it gives the best effectiveness. Another advantage is that it is easy to obtain (it is available everywhere), and affordable in price. But still it may dull the sensation for either partner. And it can tear when it is too tight or fall off when it is too loose. I hope that you won’t need to use emergency contraception, and you are not allergic to latex and do not need to buy more expensive polyurethane condoms.
2.      Female condoms. Can I do it? Make love with such a thing?
Ok, it is noisy. Sometimes it may really distract you. Add to this that they are more expensive than condoms for male. But there is one good thing about large polyurethane device. It may stimulate the clitoris! And this is an option if you are allergic to latex.
Some other barrier methods of birth control, which do not protect from sexually transmitted diseases. See the table.

Cervical Cap
Lea’s Contraceptive
What is it?
A diaphragm is a round piece of thin rubber attached to a round rim 
A cervical cap is a small piece of rubber with a hard rim and soft, domed top.
It is a small, disposable plastic foam device (appr. 5 cm in diameter)
It is a reusable soft silicone device that can be inserted into the vagina to cover the cervix
Spermicide is a chemical (called nonoyxynol-9) in forms of foam, cream, gel, film and suppositories
Principle of working
It blocks sperm from entering the uterus and fertilizing the egg
It blocks sperm from entering the uterus and fertilizing the egg
The sponge release spermicide, which kills the sperm or leaves them inactive
Lea’s contraceptive acts as a barrier to prevent the sperm and egg from joining
Spermicides are chemicals that either kill sperm or leaves them inactive
Proper using for the best effectiveness
It must not be removed until at least six hours after ejaculation, used with spermicidal jelly
It must not be removed until at least six hours after ejaculation, used with spermicidal jelly
It needs to be left in at least six hours after intercourse
Women must leave Lea’s contraceptive in place for at least eight hours after ejaculation
It is recommend that spermicides be used in conjunction with other forms of birth control to decrease the chances of pregnancy
81% - 95%
82% - 94%
72% - 82%
79% - 92%
79% if used alone

3.      Diaphragm & Cervical Cap. Oh…
You may be allergic to the device. You may be likely to  have bladder infections while using a diaphragm. And you may get Toxic Shock Syndrome from leaving   either the diaphragm or cervical cap in for long periods of time. Good news is that you can use it during breast feeding (as much as the condoms).
4.      Sponge. To put 5 cm foam device in vagina or not?
The sponge cannot be used during menstruation. You also may be allergic to the spermicide contained in it or may get toxic shock syndrome if the sponge is left in for more than 12 hours. The advantage that can be found is only that sponge is available in drugstores and supermarkets without a prescription. Buy and enjoy.
5.      Lea’s Contraceptive. Wow.
You know, this device can be left in the vagina for up to 48 hours! Just tell your partner about it, because your partner may feel Lea’s contraceptive while having sex with you.
6.      Spermicides. Ok.
You get minimal side effects and extra lubrication for sex (as some types of spermicides can add). But nonoxynol-9 (or the perfume) may cause itching, swelling or burning in some people. And your partner may not like the taste of spermicides.
For these methods (except for condoms) you are advised to use additional contraception, such as Spermicides. In fact, without a spermicide, a diaphragm, cervical cap, or Lea's Shield is not effective.
The best way to do is…
-    To use condoms
-    To use other barrier methods of birth control with spermicide.
Then you get your best possible barrier method protection. The spermicide kills most of the sperm that enter the vagina, and the barrier method then blocks any remaining sperm from passing through the cervix to fertilize an egg.
How do they differ from other methods of contraception?
Unlike other methods of birth control, barrier methods are used only when you have sexual intercourse. Diaphragm & Cervical Cap can be inserted up to six hours before sex; the remaining methods should be inserted just before sex (around 6 hours).
Why do you need barrier birth control methods?
There are some reasons when you need to use only these types of birth control for your (and your partner’s) contraception. The reasons include the following:
-    You want to protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections or doesn’t know well your partner.
-    You want an option that does not require hormones or insertion of an intrauterine device.  
-    You are planning to become pregnant soon and prefer a method you can stop using any time you want.
-    You want an option that does not restrict when you have sexual intercourse, such as natural family planning.
-    You have heavy menstrual periods and don't want to use hormonal methods. (A diaphragm may be used for birth control during a menstrual period and can contain menstrual blood as long as it is not left in for longer than 6 hours at a time).
-    You are breast-feeding
-    It is rather easy for you and you partner to use it every time you have sex.
If you’ve chosen some of these methods of contraception be to read the instructions before using a barrier method use it correctly every time you have sex. And good luck!^)
Valentyna Ant.

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