Whatever your reasons, now is not the time to start a family, so you want to avoid becoming pregnant. As you research your birth control options, you quickly realize that there are many ways to go about preventing pregnancy — in fact, so many that you’re left confused.
To help you choose the best option for your needs, our team here at the Women’s Clinic of the Rio Grande Valley, under the direction of Dr. Fernando Otero, can help with all of your family planning needs.
With that in mind, here’s a closer look at one approach to birth control — barrier methods — and its advantages over other approaches.
Understanding the main approaches to birth control
As we mentioned, there are many ways you can go about preventing an unplanned pregnancy, and each approaches the task in very different ways. To give you an idea, here’s a look at the primary types of birth control:
To prevent a pregnancy, we can supply you with options that regulate your hormones to prevent ovulation, prevent sperm from reaching your eggs, and/or thicken cervical mucus to discourage implantation of a fertilized egg.
These approaches to birth control don’t rely on medications or devices, but instead, on your ability to prevent pregnancy naturally through abstinence, fertility awareness, and withdrawal.
If you’re sure you don't want to have children, there are surgical solutions for birth control that include tubal ligation and a vasectomy.
To prevent pregnancy, you need to stop sperm from reaching and fertilizing your eggs, which is where barrier birth control methods come in.
Your barrier birth control options
There are several ways to stop sperm from reaching your eggs, including these barrier birth control options:
- Condoms — both external and internal (female condoms)
- Cervical cap or diaphragm — cuts off access to your uterus
- Sponges — prevents sperm from passing through your cervix
- Spermicides — deactivates sperm
- Copper intrauterine device (IUD) — repels sperm
It’s worth noting that, technically, tubal ligation and a vasectomy are also barrier methods.
Advantages of barrier birth control
There are several advantages to taking a barrier approach to preventing an unplanned pregnancy. For starters, some of our patients prefer this approach over hormonal methods, as they don’t respond well to hormone regulation.
Second, barrier birth control methods that prevent contact between the penis and the vagina — namely, condoms — can also help prevent sexually transmitted diseases.
Third, when used correctly, barrier birth control methods offer a fair degree of protection. In the following, we take the same list from above and attach their efficacy ratings:
- Condoms: 79-85%
- Cervical caps: 71-86%
- Diaphragms: 88%
- Sponges: 76-88%
- Spermicides or gels: 72-86%
- IUD: 99%
- Vasectomy or tubal ligation: 99%
The reason for some of the ranges above is that how you use certain barrier methods makes all the difference. For example, if you use a diaphragm without applying a spermicide to the outer ring, you lower your protection rate. As well, condoms can break if you’re not careful. In other words, knowing how to use these birth control methods properly is paramount.
If you’d like to explore your barrier birth control options and how to use them to best effect, contact one of our offices in McAllen or Edinburg, Texas, to schedule a consultation with one of our family planning experts.