Barrier methods keep sperm from entering the uterus and
reaching the egg. In general, barrier methods are less effective but have fewer
side effects than hormonal methods or IUDs.
include condoms (male and female), diaphragms, cervical caps, contraceptive
sponges, and cervical shields.
A male condom is a thin, flexible tube of latex rubber, polyurethane, or
sheep intestine that has a closed end. The condom is placed over the erect
penis before intercourse.
female condom is a tube of soft plastic (polyurethane) with a closed end. Each
end has a ring or rim. The ring at the closed end is inserted deep into the
vagina over the cervix, like a diaphragm, to hold the tube in place. The ring
at the open end remains outside the opening of the vagina.
A diaphragm is a round, dome-shaped device made of rubber with a firm,
flexible rim. It fits inside the vagina and covers the cervix, the opening of
the uterus. It should always be used with a sperm-killing cream or jelly
A cervical cap is made of rubber and shaped like a large thimble. It
fits tightly over the cervix and is used with a spermicide.
A contraceptive sponge contains a spermicide, nonoxynol-9, that is
released over the 24 hours that the sponge may be left in the vagina. The
sponge also blocks the cervix so sperm can't pass.
The cervical shield (such as Lea's Shield) is a new diaphragm-type device. The shield is made of
silicone, so latex allergy is not a concern. The device comes in one size only,
which makes the fitting process simpler.
Primary Medical Reviewer
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Femi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Current as of
May 4, 2012
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
May 04, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
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