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Birth Control Barrier Methods

Birth Control Barrier Methods Introduction

Patient Comments

The practice of birth control or preventing pregnancy is as old as human existence. For centuries, humans have relied upon their imagination to avoid pregnancy.

  • Ancient writings dating back to 1850 BC refer to techniques using a device placed in a womans vagina made of crocodile dung and fermented dough, which most likely created a hostile environment for sperm. Other items placed in the vagina included plugs of gum, honey, and acacia.
  • During the early second century in Rome, a highly acidic concoction of fruits, nuts, and wool was placed on the cervix as a type of spermicidal barrier.

Todays barrier methods include the male condom, which is inexpensive, available everywhere, and effective when used properly. The female condom is used less often. Women often elect, instead, to use a diaphragm or cervical cap. Both require a doctors visit.

Male Condom

The condom (also called a rubber) is a thin sheath placed over an erect penis. A man would put a condom over his penis before he places the penis in a womans vagina. A condom worn by a man prevents pregnancy by acting as a barrier to the passage of semen into the vagina. A condom can be worn only once. It is one of the most popular birth control barriers. You can buy condoms at most drugstores and grocery stores and dispensers can be found in public restrooms.

Condoms made from latex are the best at preventing pregnancy. They also protect against sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS and gonorrhea. Do not use condoms with Vaseline or other brands of petroleum jelly, lotions, or oils. They can decrease the effectiveness of the condom and increase the chance of pregnancy and transmission of sexually transmitted disease. Condoms can be used with lubricants that don't have oil, such as K-Y Jelly.

Male condom use has increased from among women of reproductive age because of their concern about getting HIV (the virus that leads to AIDS) and other STDs.

  • How effective: The failure rate of condoms in couples that use them consistently and correctly during the first year of use is estimated to be about 3%. However, the true failure rate is estimated to be about 14% during the first year of typical use. This marked difference of failure rates reflects the error of usage. Some couples fail to use condoms every time they have sexual intercourse. Condoms may fail (break or come off) if you use the wrong type of lubricant (for example, using an oil-based lubricant with a latex condom will cause it to fall apart). The condom may not be placed properly on the penis. Also, the man may not use care when withdrawing.
  • Advantages: Condoms are readily available and usually are low cost. A prescription is not necessary. This method involves the male partner in the contraceptive choice. Besides abstinence, latex condoms are the best protection against STDs. They are the only kind of birth control that is highly effective in preventing AIDS.
  • Disadvantages: Condoms possibly decrease enjoyment of sex. Some users may have a latex allergy. Condom breakage and slippage makes them less effective. Oil-based lubricants may damage the condom.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/28/2014
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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Birth Control Barrier Methods:

Birth Control Barrier Methods - Patient Experience

Have you use a barrier method of birth control? Which did you use, and was it effective? Please describe your experience.

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