barrier methods of contraception

The barrier methods of contraception - The use of a device and/or a chemical that will physically stop sperm from reaching an ovum, thus preventing fertilization and pregnancy. Barrier methods and spermicides (preparations that kill sperm), when used together correctly, can be highly effective in preventing conception. Barrier methods of contraception also help to prevent the sexual transmission of diseases such as HIV, genital herpes (see herpes, genital), and viral hepatitis (see hepatitis, viral).

The male condom, a latex sheath that covers the penis, is one of the most widely used barrier contraceptives. The female condom (see condom, female), which lines the vagina, is similar to the male condom but is larger.

Other barrier methods that are used by women include the diaphragm and the cap. The diaphragm (see diaphragm, contraceptive) is a hemispherical dome of thin rubber with a metal spring in the rim to hold it in place against the vaginal wall, blocking the entrance to the cervix. It is used with a spermicide. A cervical cap (see cap, cervical) is an alternative to the diaphragm.

Spermicides, in the form of aerosol foams, creams, gels, and pessaries, are placed in the vagina as close as possible to the cervix shortly before sexual intercourse. Although some condoms are precoated with spermicide, not all types of spermicide should be used with rubber barrier devices.


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