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Vaginal Barriers

What are they?
Vaginal barriers are non-hormonal contraceptives that physically block the sperm from entering the uterus through the cervix. When used in conjunction with vaginal spermicides, vaginal barriers help to prevent both pregnancy and the transmission of some STDs and infections. However, it is unclear if the use of spermicides can prevent the transmission of HIV. Some of the most popular types of vaginal barriers include the diaphragm, cervical cap, sponge and the female condom.

How do they work?
Vaginal barriers are inserted into the vagina and placed over the cervix to prevent sperm from entering the uterus. By blocking the cervix, sperm cannot enter the uterus and fertilize the egg. The diaphragm, cervical cap and sponge all require the use of spermicide or a contraceptive jelly, while the female condom does not.

How effective are Vaginal Barriers?
When used correctly and consistently, vaginal barriers are about 95% effective at preventing pregnancy and some STD’s. Reusable vaginal barriers such as the diaphragm must be stored in a cool, dry place and kept clean to prevent infection.

Advantages of Vaginal Barriers
· Non-hormonal alternative in preventing pregnancy and some STD’s
· Does not require partner involvement
· Depending on the barrier method chosen, it can be inserted up to 3 hours prior to intercourse
· Inexpensive
· Except the female condom, vaginal barriers can be used more than once.

Disadvantages of Vaginal Barriers
· Some people may have an allergic reaction to spermicide
· Except the female condom, vaginal barriers all require the use of spermicide, jelly, or contraceptive foam
· Some diaphragms and cervical caps require a prescription
· Most vaginal barriers require you to wear them for up to 6 hours after intercourse.
· It is not certain if vaginal barriers can prevent the transmission of HIV

Where can I get a Vaginal Barrier?
If you are interested in a diaphragm or a reusable cervical cap, talk to your reproductive health care professional about what would work best for you. The female condom, spermicide, and contraceptive jellies can be purchased at most drug stores around the country.

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