Saturday 16 July 2016


Contraception is the process of stopping or preventing conception (the fusing of a man's sperm to a woman's ova) from happening.
Contraception as a practise aims to reduce unintended pregnancies and abortions. It also facilitates family planning and effective spacing of child births.

In today's modern society, the importance of contraception cannot be overemphasized in population control and related health/social benefits to mothers and their children. Studies show that infant mortality can be decreased upto one third by increasing spacing between child births to 2 - 4 years. This is just one of the many direct benefits of effective contraception.

There are many different methods of contraception. While no contraception method is 100% reliable in all cases, the effectiveness of any particular contraceptive method is dependent on the method of contraception chosen and how correctly it is used. Some methods of contraception are more effective than others while some other methods have fewer side effects.

Choosing the right method of contraception is dependent on a lot of user and contraceptive method factors as well as accompanying circumstances. These includes;
  • Efficacy of the particular method chosen
  • General health of the user
  • Lifestyle of the user
  • Contraception goals
  • Adequate knowledge of and behavioural discipline on how to use any chosen contraceptive method correctly.
  • Severity of side effects if present

Choosing The Right Method

Contraception methods includes any of the following;
  • Barrier contraceptive method
  • Natural family planning method (also known as fertility awareness method)
  • Oral contraceptive method
  • Contraceptive injections
  • Subdermal implants
  • Emergency contraception
  • Vaginal ring
  • Intrauterine device
  • Sterilization method


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The barrier method of contraception is designed with the goal of preventing the sperm from reaching the ova (female egg cell). This is achieved by creating a physical barrier between the sperm and the ova.

Examples of barrier methods of contraceptions are;
  • Condoms
  • Diaphram
  • Cervical cap
  • Vaginal foam and cream


These are of two types, male and female condoms. 

Male condoms (see picture above) are the most popular barrier method of contraception in use. It is a thin latex, polyisoprene or polyurethane covering worn over the penis during sexual intercourse so that the man ejaculates into the condom and not into the vagina. One new condom should always be used at a time during sex (do not reuse condoms). If used correctly male condoms are about 98% effective in preventing pregnancy. They are also effective in protecting against sexually transmitted infections. Some male condoms also do come with spermicides which acts to kill off the sperm collected in the condom and increase the condom's effectiveness.

Advantages of male condoms includes,
  • When used consistently and correctly, condoms are reliable as a contraceptive agent.
  • Male condoms have the added benefit of preventing both sex partners from sexually transmitted infections suchs as HIV, gonorrhoea, chlamydia. They also reduce the risk of genital ulcers such as genital herpes, syphilis and chancroid.
  • Male condoms are simple and easy to use with no prior preparation required. All the man needs to do is to slip it on and wear during sexual intercourse.
  • Little to know medical side effects during use of male condoms.
  • Condoms are widely available and cost effective.
  • Can be used with other forms of contraception.
  • Contraceptive action is immediate and reversible.
  • They are the only reversible method of contraception for males.
Disadvantages of male condoms includes,
  • Condoms may tear or split if not used correctly.
  • Some males may be allergic to latex or spermicides used in making condoms. There are however alternative condoms available with no latex or spermicides which can be used.
  • Oil based lubricants used to lubricate vagina just before sex can damage latex condoms. 
  • Medications used for vaginal thrush such as vaginal creams, pessaries or suppositories can damage latex and plastic condoms during sex.
  • Condoms cause a reduction in sexual pleasure experienced by males during sexual intercourse. This is one major complaint for condom use.
Male condoms still remain one of the most effective, safe and cost efective method of contraception for both partners and can be used irrespective of the age and health condition of the adult male.

Female Condoms just like male condoms are a barrier method of contraception used during sexual intercourse to prevent pregnancy and also help reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections. A female condom is a polyurethane tube with one opening and one closed end. Both ends have rings attached to hold the condom in place. The woman inserts the closed end high up into her vagina, over the cervix while the open end remain remains at the outside of the vagina. The vagina is therefore lined up with the condom.

Female Condom

During intercourse the male partner inserts his penis into the open end of the condom. Once intercourse is over the male partner withdraws his penis, the condom with collected semen is removed and discarded.

Advantages of female condoms includes,
  • Safe, and convenient for the woman.
  • Can be used with both oil and water based lubricants.
  • It can be used as substitute when there is allergy to latex male condoms.
  • Can readily be purchased at pharmacies.
  • Once fixed, they remain in position with or without male penile erection.
  • Contraceptive action is immediate and reversible.
Disadvantages of female condoms includes,
  • Cannot and should not be used when a man is wearing a condom.
  • Significant amount of practise is needed for a woman to learn how to insert condom properly.
  • A little cumbersome to use. Feels unatural.
  • Can cause irritations due to allergic reactions to polyurethane.
  • Penis may slip out of condom, interupting intercourse.
  • More expensive than male condoms.
  • Not as effective in preventing pregnancies as male latex condoms (main disadvantage).


A contraceptive diaphram is a dome shaped rubber cup with a flexible rim used by females. It is inserted high up into the vagina before intercourse. Diaphrams cover the cervix and acts as a barrier, preventing sperm from getting into the uterus.

Diaphrams must be used with spermicides to ensure sperms are killed. This improves the contraceptive effectiveness of diaphrams.

Once inserted, diaphrams should be left in place for at least 6 to 8 hours after sexual intercourse. After this duration elapses, they can be removed and washed, ready for reuse.

Diaphrams come in different shapes and sizes and the female must be fitted for correctly by a trained healthcare provider so as to determine correct size.

Advantages of diaphragms include,
  • They need only be used when about to have sexual intercourse.
  • It can be inserted at a convenient time before sexual activity.
  • Diaphrams have few side effects.
  • Does not affect menstrual cycle.
  • Can be used during breastfeeding.
  • Diaphrams are discreet and can be carried in a purse or pocket.
  • Diaphrams do not interrupt sexual activity.
  • They protect the cervix and can help prevent cervical cancer.
  • Contraceptive action is immediate and reversible.
Disadvantages of diaphrams include,
  • It is not as effective as other methods of contraception.
  • Diaphrams provide very limited protection against sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Diaphram is made of rubber (latex) or silicon. This, along with its spermicidal use can cause irritation and allergic reaction.
  • Having a diaphram on can irritate the bladder in some women. They can also cause cystitis (bladder infection) in women.
  • Diaphrams may be pushed out of position by long penis size, heavy thrusting and even certain sexual positions.
  • Inserting a diaphram may be difficult for some women.
Diaphrams when used correctly are about 90 - 94% effective in preventing pregnancy. To improve the contraception effectiveness of diaphrams, use along with male condoms as a combined barrier contraceptive method. 

Cervical Cap

Cervical Cap

The cervical cap is a barrier method similar to the diaphram. It is inserted high up into the vagina and covers the cervix in a snug fit to prevent sperm from getting into the uterus.

The cervial cap is made of silicon. They are soft, dome shaped and manufactured in different shapes and sizes. A trained healthcare provider will check for proper fitting and show the female how to insert and fit the cervical cap in place.

Cervical cap must be used with a spermicide to kill off sperm and increase its effectiveness at contraception.

Advantages of cervical cap method include,
  • Cervical cap is simple and convenient.
  • It can be used during breast feeding.
  • Does not affect female hormones.
  • It can be inserted at any convenient time before sex.
  • It does not interrupt sex.
  • Contraceptive action is immediate and easily reversible.
Disadvantages of the cervial cap method include,
  • They cannot be used during menstruation.
  • Difficult for some women to insert and fix in place.
  • Cervical cap may be pushed out of position by long penis size, heavy thrusting and certain sexual positions.
  • Can cause irritation and bladder infection in some women.
  • Provides limited protection against sexually transmitted infections.
  • Not as effective as other methods of contraception
  • Cervical cap need to be replaced with a larger size after putting on body weight or after pregnancy and child birth.

Cervical caps when used correctly are about 90 - 94% effective in preventing pregnancy. To improve contraceptive effectiveness of cervical caps use along with male condoms as a combined barrier contraceptive method.

Vaginal Foam and Creams

Vaginal foams and creams are basically spermicides containing the ingredient nonoxynol 9. They immobilize or kill sperm on contact. They also provide a barrier method of contraception.

Vaginal foams once applied, creates a barrier to sperm entry into the uterus by bubbling within the vagina and killing off the sperms around the area. Vaginal creams on the other hand melts within the vagina to create a barrier to sperm and also kills off sperm within the area.

These spermicides are inserted deep into the vagina before intercourse.

Advantages of vaginal foams and creams include,
  • Insertion is easy.
  • Provides lubrication for vagina.
  • Does not affect fertility.
Disadvantages of vaginal foams and creams include,
  • Does not offer protection against sexually transmitted infections.
  • Some spermicidal brands cause irritation in women which may increase the chances of contracting sexually transmitted infections from their male partners carrying such infections.
  • Must be readily available and used before vaginal penetration.
  • Foams and creams can be messy.

Vaginal creams and foams are 80 - 85% effective as a contraceptive method. They are most effective when used with other barrier methods like condoms and diaphrams.


1 comment:

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