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Barrier methods of birth control prevent pregnancy by blocking sperm. This stops the sperm from reaching an egg. Types of barrier methods include condoms, diaphragms, cervical caps, and the contraceptive sponge. Barrier methods work better when you use them with a spermicide. This is a substance that kills sperm. Spermicides come in many forms—cream, jelly, gel, foam, film, and suppository. Sometimes they are used alone as a birth control method.
In general, barrier methods don't prevent pregnancy as well as IUDs or hormonal methods. The male condom and diaphragm are the barrier methods that work best. The cervical cap and sponge work about as well as a condom or a diaphragm for women who have not had a vaginal birth. But the cap and sponge don't work as well for women who have had a vaginal birth. The female condom does not work as well as a male condom. Use of spermicide alone does not work well to prevent pregnancy.
Condoms also protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as HIV/AIDS and herpes. Other barrier methods do not protect against most STIs.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Barrier methods of birth control include:
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Current as of: February 23, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Rebecca Sue Uranga
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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