Artificial contraception methods work in different ways to decrease
the likelihood that sexual intercourse will result in pregnancy.
Barrier methods such as condoms (male or female), diaphragms (with
or without spermicide) and sponges (with spermicide) have as their
first line of defense the physical blocking of the sperm's entry
into the uterus. If sperm cannot get into the uterus it cannot
fertilize an egg, and pregnancy cannot occur. An IUD works in a
different way, by making the uterus toxic to sperm and by
disturbing the lining of the uterus so that it won't allow egg
implantation. The hormones in oral contraceptives and hormone
implants fool the ovaries into refraining from ovulation, and
without a fertile egg, pregnancy will not occur. IUDs and oral
contraceptives and hormones may be used as emergency contraception
in the case of unprotected sex, but neither one will protect
against sexually-transmitted disease.
Review Date: 03/30/2010
Reviewed By: Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics
and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Redmond,
Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and
Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also
reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org)