The implant. The shot. The pill. Today’s hormonally based birth control options make contraception easy and nearly fail-safe. With effectiveness rates that hover around 91-99% against unwanted pregnancies, they’re an easy choice.
But so-called “old-fashioned” barrier methods have many advantages, too. At Florida Woman Care of Jacksonville in Jacksonville, Florida, Daniel McDyer, MD, FACOG, and Julian Stephen Suhrer, MD, want you to find the best form of contraception for your needs, values, and lifestyle.
Barrier methods of birth control physically prevent sperm from reaching eggs. Barrier methods include:
- Male condom (i.e., outer)
- Female condom (i.e., inner)
- Cervical cap
- Birth control sponge
Diaphragms, cervical caps, and sponges either contain or are used in conjunction with a spermicide. Here’s why you may want to consider barrier methods.
Condoms protect against STIs
Two things that can put a real crimp in your sex life, your happiness, and your health are an unwanted pregnancy or a sexually transmitted infection (STI). By opting for birth control — of any type — you’ve already reduced your risk for an unwanted pregnancy.
But many of the most popular forms of contraception — including birth-control shots, pills, and implants — do absolutely nothing to protect against STIs. You could have an STI for months or even years before you develop symptoms, which is when you’re considered to have a full-blown sexually transmitted disease (STD).
Whether you use an internal condom or an external one, this form of barrier contraception also minimizes the exchange of bodily fluids. Bodily fluids are a prime conveyor of STIs.
In fact, condoms are so effective against STIs that you should use them even if you use other types of contraception — including other types of barrier methods.
If you use condoms as your main source of birth control, however, you might consider combining them with another method. Male condoms are only 85% effective at preventing unwanted pregnancies and female condoms are 79% effective.
It’s important to note that not even condoms are 100% effective against preventing STIs. Some STIs — including herpes and human papillomavirus (HPV) can be transmitted through intimate touch alone; no bodily fluids required. The only guaranteed way to avoid an STI is to abstain from sex entirely.
Barrier methods are hormone-free
If you’re not comfortable with the idea of pumping hormones into your body to prevent pregnancy, then a barrier method gives you the protection you need without interfering with your normal menstrual cycle. Condoms, sponges, caps, and diaphragms simply block the progression of sperm. They don’t stop you from releasing or maturing an egg every month.
Hormonal birth control is safe for most women. However, if you have or have had cancer or another disease that could be affected by your hormone levels, barrier protection might be the best choice.
Barrier methods are as-needed
You may have opted for hormonal contraception when you were in a long-term, committed relationship and had sexual intercourse on a regular basis. But maybe that relationship has ended. You’re not sure how often you’ll have sex and so don’t want to be on birth control full-time.
Barrier methods are easily transported in your purse or suitcase so they’re ready when you need them. However, when you don’t need them, you don’t have to use them at all. Just be sure to check the expiration date on condoms and to inspect your diaphragm for signs of degradation.
Barrier methods are cost-effective
Condoms are inexpensive and readily available at any pharmacy. If you don’t need long-term protection, any of the barrier methods are less expensive when compared with most hormonal forms of birth control. Because they don’t affect your hormones, you can also easily discontinue them when you want to become pregnant.
To find out if barrier birth control is right for you, or to explore your other options, contact us to schedule a contraception consultation today at the Florida Woman Care of Jacksonville office nearest you.