How Does a Female Condom Work?
Female condoms are a barrier method of birth control, meaning that they help to prevent pregnancy by keeping sperm from coming in contact with an egg. Made out of polyurethane or latex, a female condom consists of two rings and a long tube. One ring is closed and is placed over the cervix to capture semen. The other open ring is kept at the opening of the vagina. During intercourse, the penis is inserted through the open ring into the tube. When used correctly, a female condom is 95 percent effective at preventing pregnancy, and it also prevents body fluids from becoming exchanged to protect both partners from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Are Spermicides Effective?
Spermicide is a chemical that prevents sperm from moving and causes it to die in order to decrease the chances of fertilization occurring. A wide variety of spermicide products are available, including gels, foams, suppositories and films. When used alone, spermicide is 85 percent effective at preventing unwanted pregnancy. Many women choose to use spermicide products as a secondary form of birth control. Many products can be used with male condoms.
How Does a Contraceptive Sponge Work?
You can also combine spermicide with a contraceptive device called the vaginal sponge. This soft sponge is placed over the cervix to help prevent sperm from reaching an egg. Used correctly, sponges and spermicide are 88 to 91 percent effective at preventing pregnancy. Keep in mind that spermicide and vaginal sponges are not designed to provide protection against STIs.
What Is Emergency Contraception?
Emergency contraception or the morning after pill is an oral medication that is used to try and prevent pregnancy after intercourse has already occurred. The pill contains hormones that cause changes within a woman's reproductive system to decrease the chances of sperm fertilizing an egg.
When used within 72 hours of intercourse, emergency contraception is 85 percent effective at preventing pregnancy. Since other methods of contraception are more reliable, the morning after pill should not be used as a form of birth control on a regular basis. It is intended for use in emergency situations, such as if a condom breaks.
Other Sexual Health Solutions for Women
In addition to contraception, there are other products available to assist you with your sexual health needs. Dental dams can be used to make oral sex performed on a woman safer for both partners. If you take prescription birth control pills, you can purchase a special carrying case with an electronic reminder system to help you avoid forgetting a dose. Some cases will even send you a text message to help you remember to take your pill on time.
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