Which Barrier Method?

Jerry Kennard Health Pro
  • Male and female condoms work on exactly the same principles. Both are known as barrier methods because they block sperm from coming into contact with an egg. Condoms are manufactured in strictly controlled conditions and tested to ensure their quality. They may be made of latex or polyurethane.


    Condoms are easy to get hold of and most people find them easy to use. A few people are sensitive to latex condoms, in which case it makes sense to switch to the polyurethane (plastic) alternative.


    Condoms are a dependable, safe and effective means of contraception. However, it must be remembered that both male and female varieties are not 100 percent effective. If properly used, it is estimated that the male condom is 98 percent effective, compare to a 95 percent effectiveness rate for the female condom. Put another way, five women in every 100 will become pregnant if the female condom is their only means of contraception.

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    The male condom is applied by rolling it over the erect penis. Male condoms come in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors and flavors. For added protection some have a spermicidal lubricant applied. After sex, the man needs to withdraw before the penis goes soft and to put his fingers on the base of the condom to ensure it doesn't come off in the process.


    Female condoms are put inside the vagina, the closed end being positioned high inside. The outer ring lies just outside the vagina, the whole effect being to line the inside of the vagina wall. After sex, the outer ring is twisted in order to keep the sperm inside. The condom is then removed and carefully disposed of.


    One of the great advantages of condoms is their relative ease of use. Because they are only used during sex, there are no concerns about having to remember to take a daily pill. Of course condoms also offer the best protection against the transmission of sexual infections.


    There are some disadvantages. First, as previously mentioned, they are not 100 percent effective. The male condom has been known to split or to slip off. It can take an act of some willpower to withdraw during sex in order to replace a split condom. Some men complain about a lack of sensitivity with condoms and use this as an excuse not to use them. Spontaneity in sex can also be interrupted. Although the female condom can be put in place before sex, there is a small danger that the penis can go between the wall of the vagina and the condom.


    In the case of both male and female latex condoms, oil-based lubricants, body oils or lotions, should not be used.

Published On: January 12, 2009