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:
- External condoms worn on the penis
- Internal (or female) condoms worn in the vagina
- Contraceptive sponges
- Cervical caps
- Chemical barriers, like spermicidal foam
- Dental dams
- Latex underpants
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.