Birth Control Barrier Methods (cont.)
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The female condom (brand name: Reality) is a polyurethane sheath intended for 1-time use, similar to the male condom. It contains 2 flexible rings and measures 7.8 cm in diameter and 17 cm in length. You can buy them at a drugstore without a prescription. The ring at the closed end of the sheath serves as an insertion mechanism and internal anchor that is placed inside a woman's vagina just before sex. The other ring forms the external edge of the device and remains outside of the canal after insertion. The female condom prevents pregnancy by acting as a barrier to the passage of semen into the vagina. Do not have a male partner use a condom at the same time because they may stick to each other, leading to slippage or displacement of either device. If you have a choice between the two, have the male use a condom for better protection.
The diaphragm is a shallow latex cup with a spring mechanism in its rim to hold it in place in the vagina. Diaphragms are manufactured in various sizes. You need a pelvic examination and measurement of the diagonal length of your vaginal canal so your health care provider can determine the correct diaphragm size. You insert the diaphragm with spermicide before sex. The spermicidal cream or jelly is applied to the inside of the dome, which then covers your cervix. Your doctor will show you how to insert it and how to know it is in place. It prevents pregnancy by acting as a barrier to the passage of semen into the cervix. Once in position, the diaphragm provides effective contraception for 6 hours. After that time, if you have not removed the diaphragm, you will add fresh spermicide with an applicator. After intercourse, the diaphragm must be left in place for at least 6 hours after sex but not more than 24 hours.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/28/2014
Omnia M Samra, MD
Bryan D Cowan, MD
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
Lee P Shulman, MD
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