Barrier Methods

Male Condom

What is the Male Condom?

Male condoms are worn on the penis of a male during sex. They are made of thin latex or plastic that has been molded into the shape of a penis. They prevent pregnancy and reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases STIs and HIV. Condoms come in different styles and colors, and are available dry, lubricated and with spermicide.

How do Male Condoms work?

Condoms prevent pregnancy by keeping the sperm from getting into the women’s body during sex. It collects the pre-cum and semen when a man ejaculates (cums).

By covering the penis and keeping semen out of the vagina anus, or mouth, condoms also reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). There are expiration dates on condoms which will affect the effectiveness of the condom. Check out the “What else do I need to know?” section for description on how to use a condom correctly

How well do they work?

  • Condoms can work very well when used in the right way. Only 18 out of 100 people who use condoms the right way will get pregnant each year.

What are some of the benefits?

  • They are inexpensive and easy to get
  • No prescription is required so you don’t have to go to a health care provider to get them. Any drugstore, supermarket sells them
  • It may help a man stay erect longer
  • There are many different kinds of condoms so you can find which one is right for you
  • There are flavored condoms to use for oral sex
  • It can be carried in your pocket or purse
  • Latex condoms also reduce your chances of getting other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including:
    • Chlamydia
    • Gonorrhea
    • Hepatitis B
    • Herpes
    • HPV
    • Syphilis
    • Trichomoniasis
  • It can be used with all other birth control methods except the female condom to protect against pregnancy sexually transmitted diseases (STIs)

What is the downside to Male Condoms?

  • Couples may notice less feeling during sex
  • If not used correctly can break or slip off during sex which increases chance of pregnancy and STI’s
  • Either partner may have a latex allergy ad therefore world need to use a polyurethane (plastic) condom which are more expensive

How can I get it?

The male condom is available at clinics, drugstores, online, and in some supermarkets.

Female Condom

What is the Female Condom?

The female condom is a pouch that gets inserted in the vagina is used during intercourse to prevent pregnancy and reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases. It has flexible rings at each end. The ring at the open end stays outside the vaginal opening during intercourse. The ring at the closed end gets inserted into the back of the vagina. During anal intercourse, it is inserted into the anus.

How does it work?

Female condoms work to prevent pregnancy by covering the inside of the vagina. They collect pre-cum and semen when a man ejaculates. This keeps sperm from getting into the vagina. Pregnancy cannot happen if sperm cannot join with an egg. By covering the inside of the vagina or anus and keeping semen and pre-cum out, the female condom reduces the chance of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

How well does it work?

  • If not used the right way, the female condom can increase your chances of getting pregnant

What are the benefits to a Female Condom?

  • It can be inserted up to eight hours before sex
  • It protects against STIs and HIV
  • It may be pleasurable for the woman as the outer ring may stimulate the clitoris (clit)
  • No prescription is necessary
  • A great option for people who are allergic to latex as the female condom is made of polyurethane which is another form of rubber
  • It doesn’t affect a woman’s natural hormones

What’s downside to using a Female Condom?

  • It may cause irritation of the vagina, vulva, penis, or anus
  • It may reduce feeling during intercourse

How can I get it?

The female condom is available at clinics, drugstores, online, and in some supermarkets.

How much does it cost?

The female condoms can cost between $2 to $4. You can get them at family planning clinics, drugstores, online, and in some supermarkets.

Diaphragm

What is a Diaphragm?

A Diaphragm is a shallow, dome-shaped cup with a flexible rim. It is made of silicone. You put it into the vagina. When it is in place, it covers the cervix.

How does a Diaphragm work?

Diaphragms work to stop pregnancy from happening by stopping sperm from joining with an egg. In order for it to work best, the diaphragm must be used with spermicide cream, gel, or jelly. The diaphragm blocks the opening to the uterus and the spermicide stops the sperm from moving.

How well does it work?

The diaphragm works best if you make sure that it is covering your cervix before each time you have sex. It also works best when used with spermicide.

  • If women always use the diaphragm, 6 out of 100 will become pregnant each year.

What are the benefits?

  • It can be carried in your pocket or purse
  • It usually cannot be felt by you or your partner during sex
  • It does not effect a woman’s natural hormones
  • If used the right way, it works very well
  • You can put it in hours before you have sex, so you do not need to worry about forgetting to put it in if you think you might be having sex later

What is the downside to using a Diaphragm?

  • Some women feel like it’s hard to put it in their vagina
  • It might be pushed out of place by some penis sizes, heavy thrusting, and some sex positions
  • Every time you have sex, you must put it in place before
  • It might need to be refitted if it doesn’t stay in place

Vaginal Sponge

What is a Vaginal Sponge?

The vaginal sponge is made up of plastic foam and has spermicide in it. It is soft, round, and about two inches wide. It has a string made up of nylon attached to the bottom so that it’s easy to take out. It is put deep inside the vagina before having sex.

How does a Vaginal Sponge work?

The sponge stops pregnancy from happening by keeping sperm from joining with an egg. It does this by covering the cervix which keeps the sperm from going inside the uterus. It also constantly releases spermicide that keeps the sperm from moving.

How effective is a Vaginal Sponge?

Like all birth control, the sponge works best when it is used the right way. And women who have never had a baby tend to have the most success with it.

  • If women who have never given birth always use the sponge the right way, 9 out of 100 will get pregnant each year.

What are the benefits?

  • You can carry it in your pocket or purse
  • Usually it cannot be felt by you or your partner during sex
  • It does not affect a woman’s natural hormones
  • If used the right way, it is very effective
  • You can put it in hours before you have sex, so you do not need to worry about forgetting to put it in if you think you might be having sex later. It can also be worn for up to 30 hours after you put it in. You can have sex as many times as you want during the first 24 hours without taking the sponge out.

What is the downside to using a Vaginal Sponge?

  • Sometimes women find it hard to put it in or take it out. If you have problems taking it out or it breaks into smaller pieces, see your health care provider right away to have it taken out.
  • The sponge might cause some women irritation in their vagina
  • Some women do not like it because the sponge can either make sex too messy or too dry

How can I get it?

The sponge is available at clinics, drugstores, online, and in some supermarkets.

How much does it cost?

The vaginal sponge can cost between $0 and $15. You can get them at family planning clinics, drugstores, online, and in some supermarkets.

Need help now?

For more information, text or call Renee Cohall, LCSW-R, Director of Special Initiatives, at 646-245-4000.