Barrier Contraception

Barrier contraceptives allow for non hormonal contraception

Barrier contraceptives are experiencing a comeback as women turn their backs on synthetic hormones. more into making the most effective barrier contraceptives possible, the changeover from latex to silicone, and new natural spermicide alternatives such as ContraGel, its no wonder more women are turning to this once archaic technique as their birth control method of choice.



Fertility Awareness and Barrier Contraceptives

If used in conjunction with a Fertility Awareness method where you are intimate aware of your fertility window, a barrier contraceptive must only be used for a short window of time with in the month. The rest of the time you are not fertile anyway, so no barrier is needed. Remember, you can only rely on this method if you are totally sure of your ovulation date, and you are charting you fertility correctly. Lucky, contraceptive monitors, such as Cyclotest, make fertility charting easy so you can be confident in your knowledge of when to use a barrier and when you can sex without thinking twice about contraception.



 symptothermal fertility and ovulation chart

Cervical Caps

The cervical cap is a form of barrier contraception that fits snugly over the cervix and blocks sperm from entering the uterus through the external orifice of the uterus.  The external orifice of the uterus is called the os.  One of the  most popular types of cervical caps is Fempcap.  Femcap is made with medical grade silicon rubber, which is perfect for users who experience adverse reactions to latex. As of February 2009, after Prentif Cap was discontinued, FemCap was the only FDA approved cervical cap available in the United States.

FemCap Cervical Cap for Barrier Contraception To Be Used With Fertility Awareness



Lea's Shield was a cervical barrier device which was discontinued in 2008.  Some sources use ‘cervical cap’ to refer to FemcCap and Lea’s Shield while others classify Lea’s Sheild as a distinct type of device.  Terminology on different sites can be confusing, so make sure you understand which device is being referred to in your research.



All cervical caps must be used in conjunction with a contraceptive gel in order to be effective.  Because of it's chemical-free, all natural ingredients, the Ethical Family Planning Association recommends the use of ContraGel, the natural alternative to spermicide in conjunction with the FemCap cervical cap. Both of these products can be found on this website.




The diaphragm is shaped like a dome with a spring molded into the rim and is made of silicone or soft latex. The spring creates a seal against the walls of the vagina. As is the case with cervical caps, many women prefer silicon based diaphragms because of allergic or adverse reactions to latex.



According to contraceptive technology, the method failure rate of the diaphragm used with spermicide is 6% per year.  Annual pregnancy rates of 10 to 39% of diaphragm users have also been reported.  These however vary greatly between the populations being studied.  One of the most interesting things to consider about diaphragms is that they are as equally effective for women who have given birth as they are for women who have not.  This is a characteristic unique to diaphragms when compared to other forms of cervical barriers.



Using diaphragms has been known to increase the risk of contracting urinary tract infections (UTIs).  Urinating before inserting the diaphragm and also after intercourse may reduce this risk.  The increased risk of UTIs may be due to the diaphragm applying pressure to the urethra, which is common if the diaphragm is too large.  This causes irritation by preventing the bladder from emptying completely. However, the spermicide nonoxynol-9 is itself associated with an increased risk of UTI, yeast infection, and bacterial vaginosis. For this reason, some advocate the use of lactic acid based spermicides, which may have fewer side effects.



For women who experience side effects from nonoxynol-9, some sources have suggested using diaphragms without spermicide.  One study reported a 24% rate of actual pregnancy per year among women using the diaphragm without spermicide.  The women in this study were not fitted individually by a clinician and were instead all given a 60mm diaphragm. There haven’t been enough studies to recommend using diaphragms without spermicide or contraceptive gel, so you should still use both products together for maximum protection. Spermicide traditionally contains Nonoxynol 9 which is known to cause irritations with many users, the Ethical Family Planning Association recommends ContraGel, a Nonoxynol 9 free contraceptive gel, especially for women who experience irritation as a result of Nonoxynol-9.


Diaphragms also come with the risk of experiencing toxic shock syndrome (TSS) however the actual chance of this happening is quite low.  Out of 100,000 diaphragm users, 2.4 will experience TSS.  This happens almost exclusively when the diaphragm is left inside the vagina for over 24 hours.



Those allergic to latex are advised against using latex diaphragms.  There are only a few non-latex diaphragms available on the market.  One of the most popular silicon based diaphragm brands is Milex which is available for purchase below.




Condoms for hormone free contraception, vegan condoms

A condom is one of the most popular barrier devices on the market.  It is a contraceptive used during intercourse, most often by males, to avoid pregnancy.  A condom can also be used to reduce the risk of spreading or contracting sexual transmitted diseases (STDs) such as HIV, chlamydia and syphilis.  Condoms are placed over a man’s erect penis and act as a physical barricade, preventing ejaculated semen from entering the body of the man’s sexual partner.



Some male condoms are made with materials such as polyurethane, polyisoprene or lamb intestine, but the vast majority are made from latex. If you have ethical issues with animal byproducts, or you want to avoid latex or polyurethane, check out our vegan certified French Letter condoms below.



Some condoms come pre-lubricated with a small amount of Nonoxynol-9 spermicide chemical.  Consumer Reports have concluded that these spermicide-lubricated condoms don’t actually offer any additional benefits when it comes to preventing pregnancy.  They also have a shorter lifespan than regular condoms and are believed to cause urinary-tract infections in women.  On the other hand, applying separately packaged spermicide to condoms is believed to increase a condom’s efficiency.



The failure rate of condoms varies depending on the population being studied and has been reported to be around 10-18% per year.  The pregnancy rate of condoms used perfectly is 2% per year.  For maximum protection, condoms may be used with other forms of contraception, such as spermicide or contraceptive gel.



Contraceptive Sponges

Contraceptive sponges prevent contraception by combining barrier and spermicidal methods.  These sponges cannot be reused or refilled and must be disposed of after use.  The leading brands of contraceptive sponges on the market today are Pharmatex, Protectaid and Today sponge.  Pharmax is available in France and Quebec; Protectaid in Canada and Europe; while Today is sold in the United States.



The Today sponge manufacturer reports a success rate of 89% to 91% for users who practice contraception with the sponge consistently and correctly.  The success rate of users who do not follow the directions on the package prior to intercourse drop to 84% to 89%.  Other sources report lower effectiveness for women who have given birth in comparison with those who have not (74% for perfect use and 68% during typical use).



The effectiveness of typical use of Protectaid has been reported at 77% to 91%, while perfect use has rates of over 99% per year.  Studies of Pharmatex have shown typical use success rates of 81% per year.  To further increase the effectiveness of condoms, implementing another method of birth control such as condoms could be beneficial.



Unlike Protectaid and Pharmatex sponges which come ready to use, you must run the Today sponge under water until it´s completely wet before insertion.  Each sponge may be inserted 24 hours before intercourse.  In order to be effective, it must be left in place for at least six hours after intercourse.  Contraceptive sponges should not be worn for more than 30 hours straight.

Today Sponge



The contraceptive sponge acts as a physical barrier that prevents sperm from entering the cervix and going into the female reproductive system.  Spermicide is an essential component of practicing contraception with sponges and each brand is manufactured using a different kind of spermicide.



The Today sponge contains 1,000 milligrams of nonoxynol-9.  Protectaid contains 5,000 mg of F-5 gel, which contains three active ingredients (6.25 mg of nonoxynol-9, 6.25 mg of benzalkonium chloride, and 25 mg of sodium cholate). Pharmatex contains 60 mg of benzalkonium chloride.  The abundance of nonxynol-9 is often a concern of potential users.  If you've experienced any adverse reactions to nonoxynol-9 spermicide before, you will most likely be irritated by sponges and should therefore consider an alternative form of barrier contraceptives such as the cervical cap in conjunction with ContraGel.



Women who use the sponge have an increased risk of contracting yeast and urinary tract infections.  Leaving the sponge in for over thirty hours can cause toxic shock syndrome, therefore it´s extremely important to use sponges with proper care and attention.  If you experience any adverse reactions to the sponge, you may be allergic to spermicide and should seek medical attention before continuing use.



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  1. French Letter Fair Trade  Vegan Condoms for Ethical Contraception with No Hormones.

    French Letter Fair Trade Condoms - Pack of 12

    French Letter vegan condoms are guaranteed to be free of Nonoxynol 9 spermicide which will save a lot of people a lot of itching. They are totally compatible with ContraGel, our natural alternative to spermicide and YES organic lubricants.


    • Fair Trade condoms
    • Contain no animal by-products
    • 12 condoms in each pack
    • 3 different styles to choose from
    • Sheer Caress - Silky Light for a Real Feeling
    • Linger Lust - Each with integrated potency ring which prolongs and enhances performance
    • Stimulating Massage - Smothered in indulgent studs and ribs


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    Price (Inc. VAT): £9.95

  2. Buy The FemCap Cervical Cap

    FemCap Cervical Cap for Hormone Free Barrier Contraception

    A latex free, cervical cap for hormone free contraception. The simple system of having only 3 sizes available means that you can decide the correct size yourself without having a fitting from your Doctor or Gynecologist.


    • 100% Natural Instantly Reversible Contraception. 
    • Totally Hormone Free. 
    • Latex Free. 
    • Vegan - Contains No Animal By-Products.
    • Over 10 Years Production History. 
    • American Manufactured. 
    • FDA Approved. 
    • Health Canada Approved.
    • EU / CE 0470 Certified.


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    Price (Inc. VAT): £50.00

  3. Milex Omniflex Diaphragms - For Reusable Barrier Contraception

    Milex Omniflex Diaphragms - For Reusable Barrier Contraception

    Milex silicone diaphragm, with Omniflex style spring. Available in 60mm, 65mm, 70mm, 75mm, 80mm, 85mm, 90mm. Sizing must be determined by your Doctor or Gynaecologist.


    • High Durability And Longer Use Life
    • Hypoallergenic
    • Avoids Latex Allergy
    • Does Not Absorb Odors or Secretions
    • Sterilizable, Can Be Boiled or Autoclaved
    • Broad Rim With Lip Keeps Gel Inside Diaphragm And Keeps Tight Fit
    • Sizing Compatible With Ortho All Flex Sizing
    • Storage Box And Instructions For Use Included


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    Price (Inc. VAT): £40.00

  4. Milex Arcing Diaphragms - The Reusable Barrier Contraceptive

    Milex Arcing Diaphragms - For Reusable Barrier Contraception

    Milex silicone diaphragm, with Arcing style spring. Available in 60mm, 65mm, 70mm, 75mm, 80mm, 85mm, 90mm. Sizing must be determined by your Doctor or Gynaecologist.


    • High Durability And Longer Use Life
    • Hypoallergenic
    • Avoids Latex Allergy
    • Does Not Absorb Odors or Secretions
    • Sterilizable, Can Be Boiled or Autoclaved
    • Broad Rim With Lip Keeps Gel Inside Diaphragm And Keeps Tight Fit
    • Sizing Compatible With Ortho All Flex Sizing

  5. Storage Box And Instructions For Use Included

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Price (Inc. VAT): £40.00

  • Caya Single Size Contoured Diaphragm

    Caya Single Size Contoured Diaphragm

    Caya is a single-size contraceptive barrier device designed to fit a broad range of women. The contoured diaphragm design is easy to use and offers discreet contraceptive protection.


    • 100% Natural Instantly Reversible Contraception. 
    • Totally Hormone Free. 
    • Latex Free.
    • One Size Fits Most Women.
    • Suitable for users of 65mm, 70mm, 75mm or 80mm diaphragms.
    • EU / CE 0470 Certified.
    • Not Available In Australia or USA.


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    Price (Inc. VAT): £40.00

  • Pesante - Pack of 3 X Female Condoms

    Pesante - Pack of 3 X Female Condoms (aka Femidoms)

    Pasante branded pack of 3 X Female Condoms. Giving women choice. Non-spermicidally lubricated non-latex female condom. Soft and comfortable, it lines the inside of the vagina and provides superior heat transfer and sensitivity. Compatible with ContraGel and YES lubricants.


    • Length: 170mm, Width: 80mm, Average Thickness: 50 microns.
    • Currently the world's ONLY non-spermicidally lubricated non-latex female condom.
    • Can be inserted up to an hour before.
    • Odourless, tasteless and does not require male erection.
    • Prevents the spread of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and AIDS.
    • Does not reduce a male partner's stimulation.
    • Protects the vagina and vulva.
    • Can be used by people with latex sensitivities.
    • Erection not necessary to keep condom in place.


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    Price (Inc. VAT): £5.50

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