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Barrier Method

Updated: JUNE 15, 2017
Reviewed by Kinkly Staff
on September 26, 2022

A barrier method is a means of contraception that works by blocking what the user wants to block from entering into the body during sexual activity. Traditionally, this term referred to contraception used to prevent conception by blocking the path of sperm into the uterus. However, it is now used to refer to contraception used to block fluids and prevent STI transmission as well.

Barrier methods include the following:

Barrier methods are temporary and nonhormonal. This makes them more convenient and affordable. They also prevent fewer side effects. The downside to barrier methods is that they also less reliable in typical use scenarios.

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More About Barrier Method

It's important to note that some barrier methods protect only against STIs (dental dams), others protect only against pregnancy (sponges, caps and chemical barriers) and some provide protection against both (condoms). Therefore, it is important that people understand and choose the method that best fits their needs.

For some people looking to prevent pregnancy, barrier methods provide an affordable option. Some people also choose barrier methods to avoid hormonal contraception, either as a matter of choice, or for medical reasons. However, for those who have sex with multiple partners, a barrier is recommended to prevent the transmission of STIs, even when a more permanent contraceptive method is in place.

For same-sex couples for whom pregnancy is not an issue, barrier methods are still important for preventing STI transmission. This can mean the use of condoms during oral or anal sex, and dental dams when performing oral sex on a vulva or performing analingus. In 2022, latex underwear became another FDA-approved option for prevent STI transmission.

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