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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 averse reactions to the sponge, you may be allergic to spermicide and should seek medical attention before continuing use.
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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. 12 condoms in each pack, 3 different styles to choose from.
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These soft cleansing wipes are designed for women to use as part of their daily intimate hygiene, especially during menstruation and as an extra convenience when travelling. They are organic and certified by the Vegan Society.
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Pesante 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. Can be used with any lubricant.
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CLEAN-Fleece, 25 hygienic intimate wipes. Sterile, fresh, anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial these resealable packs are highly recommended for the bedside table of diaphragm and cervical cap users. Alcohol free and perfume free.
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Pjur CLEAN Spray is the only alcohol-free cleaning product on the market today that provides protection against bacteria, fungus, and even lipophilic viruses. Its completely alcohol-free formulation makes it the ideal cleansing product for intimate areas, diaphragms, cervical caps and intimate toys.
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ContraGel Green, the natural, vegan alternative to spermicide, in a large 60ml tube. The ideal gel for your diaphragm or cervical cap, natural and safe. Compatible with YES Organic lubricants and French Letter vegan condoms.
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Gygel Nonoxynol-9 Spermicide in a 30ml tube is NHS approved for use without prescription. The number 1 spermicide in use in the UK with diaphragm and cervical cap users.
For a natural alternative check out our ContraGel contraceptive gel on this same website.
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Diaphragm starter pack including Milex Omniflex silicone diaphragm, natural contraceptive gel plus vaginal applicator, just what you need to get going on the road to healthy, hormone free contraception.
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Diaphragm starter pack including Milex Arcing Style silicone diaphragm, natural contraceptive gel plus vaginal applicator, just what you need to get going on the road to healthy, hormone free contraception.
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A latex free, cervical cap, ContraGel natural contraceptive gel plus vaginal applicator, just what you need to get going on the road to healthy, 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.
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ContraGel Green, the Natural, Vegan Alternative to Spermicide, large 60ml tube. The ideal gel for your diaphragm or cervical cap, natural and safe. Compatible with YES Organic lubricants and French Letter vegan condoms.