- male condom
- female condom
- cervical cap
- vaginal sponge
Barrier methods are among the oldest methods used to prevent
pregnancy and to prevent the sexual transmission of diseases.
Barrier methods include the male condom and female-controlled
methods the female condom, diaphragm, cervical cap, spermicides
and vaginal sponge.
As the name indicates, each method creates a barrier that prevents
sperm from reaching the egg or prevents the transmission of
disease-causing microorganisms. Some do this primarily by creating
a physical barrier: the male and female condom, diaphragm and
cervical cap. Spermicides and the vaginal sponge rely primarily
on a chemical barrier agent that kills the sperm or microorganism.
Barrier methods can be used alone, in combinations, or with
non-barrier types of contraception.
When used in combination, their overall effectiveness against
pregnancy and infection increases.
According to surveys, about 45 million married couples of reproductive
age are using the male condom for contraception worldwide. Millions
more who are not included in these surveys also use the male
condom. About six million couples worldwide report using either
spermicides, the diaphragm or the cervical cap. The diaphragm,
cervical cap and sponge are not generally available in developing
countries, and the female condom is only now becoming available.