Abortion, Birth Control, Well-Woman Care, Making an Appointment
Newsletter, Press Releases, Links
Mission Statement and Philosophy, Donate, Opportunities
Women's Health Matters, Current Events, Abortion Facts
Directions, Contact Information & Hours
"The best part of my experience was being welcomed as comfortably as possible under the circumstances. Knowing that I was treated without judgment made my anxiety less apparent."
—Aradia Client

back to top   



Back to Birth Control Methods.

Male Condom
Female Condom
Diaphragm
Cervical Cap
Please read our disclaimer

Male Condoms

A male condom is a thin sheath placed over the penis that acts as a physical barrier to "catch the cum" and block the passage of semen. A new condom must be worn from start to finish during every act of intercourse in order to prevent pregnancy.

How well they work:

Among typical users, they are 86 percent effective. This means for every 100 sexually active women using condoms, 14 of them will become pregnant in the first year. The reasons for ineffectiveness include:

  • Failure to use with every act
  • Failure to use throughout intercourse
  • Improper lubricant use with latex condoms
  • Incorrect placement of condom on penis and poor withdrawal technique
  • Condom breaks
  • Condom slips either partially or completely off the penis

In perfect users the male condom is 97 percent effective. This means for every 100 sexually active women using condoms, three of them will become pregnant in the first year.

Advantages:

  • Protection from Sexually Transmitted Infections (with the exception of natural membrane condoms)
  • They can be purchased in drugstores and some supermarkets at a relatively low cost
  • No prescriptions or fittings are needed. Once learned, placement is easy and may be done by a partner as part of sex play.
  • Condoms allow men to share responsibility in preventing infection and pregnancy
  • Protection from infertility
  • Accessibility
  • Low cost
  • Male participation
  • Erection enhancement
  • Proof of protection
  • Portable
  • Minimal medical side effects: those with latex sensitivity can use plastic condoms

Disadvantages:

  • May reduce sensitivity
  • Decreases spontaneity
  • Problems with erection
  • Embarrassment
  • Must be used with every act of intercourse
  • Lack of cooperation
  • Latex allergy

Instructions for use:

  1. Have adequate supply of condoms and water-based lubricants.
  2. Discuss condom use before intercourse.
  3. Open package carefully to avoid tearing the condom.
  4. Put condom on before coming in contact with the vagina; if penis is uncircumcised, pull back the foreskin before putting on the condom.
  5. Begin to unroll condom, ensuring it is unrolling correctly; holding the tip of the condom, unroll to the base of the erect penis.
  6. Adequate lubricant is important.
  7. If condom breaks or slips during intercourse, but before ejaculation, stop and put on another condom.
  8. Soon after ejaculation, while the penis is still erect, hold condom firmly against base of penis and withdraw.
  9. Always check condom for visible damage.
  10. Use a new condom from start to finish with each new act of intercourse.

If the condom breaks:

  • You can use Emergency Contraception/Plan B. Emergency contraception is most effective when used immediately after birth control failure or unprotected intercourse.
  • Gently wash genitals, and apply spermicide into the vagina with an applicator as soon as possible.
  • Do not douche.

back to top   

Female condom

This is a physical barrier which lines the vagina entirely. It is a soft, loose fitting polyurethane sheath that contains two rings. One ring is used to insert the condom; the other forms the outer edge of the condom remaining outside the vagina after insertion. The sheath is coated inside with a lubricant (containing no spermicide) and there is additional lubricant for the outside.

How well it works:

The female condom is about 79 percent effective as commonly used. This means for every 100 sexually active women using the female condom, 21 of them will become pregnant in the first year.

The female condom can be about 95 percent effective if used perfectly. This means for every 100 sexually active women using the female condom, five of them will become pregnant in the first year.

Advantages:

  • The female condom reduces the risk of many Sexually Transmitted Infections, including HIV.
  • They can be purchased in drugstores and some supermarkets at a relatively low cost.
  • No prescriptions or fittings are needed. Once learned, insertion is easy and may be done by a partner as part of sex play.
  • Female condoms allow women to share responsibility for preventing infection.
  • Female condoms can be used with oil-based as well as water-based lubricants.
  • Can be used by people who are allergic to latex.

Disadvantages:

  • Some women may notice vaginal irritation using the female condom. The outer ring may irritate the vulva.
  • It may slip into the vagina during intercourse.
  • The inner ring may irritate the penis.
  • Some people say that feeling is reduced. Others say that it is noisy.
  • One time use only.

Instructions for Use:

  1. Open the condom carefully; do not use scissors.
  2. Distinguish the outer ring from the inner ring.
  3. Hold the inner ring with the thumb and middle finger; put index finger on pouch between other two fingers.
  4. Squeeze the inner ring and insert the pouch as far as possible into the vagina; make sure the inner ring is past the pubic bone.
  5. Make sure the pouch is not twisted and that the outer ring is outside of the vagina.
  6. Use lubricant.
  7. Insert a new female condom for each act of intercourse.

back to top   

Diaphragms and Cervical Caps

Both of these barrier methods are soft latex or silicone barriers that fit securely over the cervix. They are both used with spermicide cream or jelly.

Diaphragm

The diaphragm is a shallow, dome-shaped cup with a flexible rim. The dome of the diaphragm is filled with spermicide or jelly and covers the cervix.

How well it works:

The diaphragm is about 84 percent effective as commonly used. This means for every 100 sexually active women using the diaphragm, 16 of them will become pregnant in the first year.

The diaphragm can be about 94 percent effective if used perfectly. This means for every 100 sexually active women using the diaphragm, six of them will become pregnant in the first year.

Advantages

  • Provides pregnancy protection for up to six hours
  • Provides some protection against PID (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease)
  • Does not have any hormonal side effects
  • Can easily be carried in pocket or bag
  • Can be inserted ahead of time so as not to interrupt sex play
  • Can be used during breastfeeding

Disadvantages

  • No protection against Sexually Transmitted Infections
  • Requires a prescription and a fitting by a health care provider
  • It may be difficult for some women to insert diaphragms.
  • A woman must be willing to insert the diaphragm every time she has vaginal intercourse
  • Diaphragms and caps may require refitting
  • Some sexual positions, penis sizes, and thrusting techniques and angles can push diaphragms or caps out of place
  • Some women who use diaphragms develop frequent bladder infections
  • Women who are allergic to latex or some brands of spermicide may not be able to use diaphragms

Instructions for use:

  1. Insert before any penis/vulva and vagina contact; it can be inserted up to six hours prior to intercourse.
  2. Examine the diaphragm for any holes, tears or cracks.
  3. Place about two teaspoons of spermicide on the inner surface.
  4. Squeeze diaphragm in half and insert while in a comfortable position (lying on back, squatting, with one leg on a chair, etc.).
  5. Make sure diaphragm is behind the pubic bone and covering the cervix.
  6. Leave diaphragm in place for at least six hours after the last intercourse not to exceed 24 hours.
  7. If it has been more than six hours since the diaphragm has been inserted, additional spermicide should be added.
  8. Add more spermicide for every act of intercourse, but do not remove the device if it is less then six hours from last intercourse.
  9. If you notice the diaphragm has slipped, use Emergency Contraception.

back to top   

Cervical Cap

The cervical cap is a soft, deep rubber cup with a firm round rim. It is smaller than the diaphragm. The rim fits snugly around the base of the cervix. The cup is filled 1/3 of the way with spermicide and held in place until the cap is removed.

How well it works:

Among women who have never given birth the cervical cap provides a 91-95 percent success rate. This means for every 100 sexually active women using the cervical cap, three to nine of them will become pregnant in the first year.

Among women who have given birth, the cervical cap is substantially less effective and provides a 74 percent -95 percent success rate. This means for every 100 sexually active women using the cervical cap, five to 26 of them will become pregnant in the first year.

Advantages:

  • Great for short or long term use
  • No long-term or hormonal side effects
  • No partner involvement
  • Perfect for women who need protection intermittently
  • Provides continual contraception for 48 hours

Disadvantages:

  • No protection against Sexually Transmitted Infections
  • Requires professional fitting
  • Possible skin irritation
  • Possible latex allergy
  • Possible increased incidence of vaginal and urinary tract infections
  • Toxic shock syndrome (rare)
  • Not as effective as hormonal methods and offers none of the potential benefits of hormonal contraceptives
  • The cervix may have abnormal cell growth during the first few months of cap use. This is a rare condition. It usually corrects itself but sometimes requires medical treatment.

Instructions for Use:

  1. Insert before any penis/vulva and vagina contact; it can be inserted up to six hours prior to intercourse.
  2. Examine the cervical cap for any holes, tears or cracks.
  3. Fill the bottom 1/3 of the cap with spermicide; avoid the inside rim because the spermicide may interfere with suction.
  4. Squeeze the sides of the cap between the thumb and index finger; ease the cap, rim first, inside the vagina.
  5. Push cap back until it covers the cervix; make sure it is in place by tracing the rim of the cap where it fits against the vaginal wall with one of your fingers.
  6. Leave the cap in place for six hours after last intercourse; adding more spermicide for each intercourse is not necessary.
  7. Do not leave the cap in for more than 48 hours at a time.
  8. If you notice the cervical cap has slipped, use Emergency Contraception.

back to top