Barrier Methods of Birth Control

Barrier methods of birth control are physical or chemical barriers that prevent sperm from passing through the woman’s cervix into the uterus and fallopian tubes to fertilize an egg.

Like any birth control, there may be side effects and risks, besides pregnancy. Side effects may include allergic reactions, vaginal irritation, vaginal infections and urinary tract infections.  Condoms provide the best available protection against sexually transmitted disease (STDs), including HIV.

The following summary lists the barrier methods and the reported likelihood a woman will become pregnant during the first year of typical use.

Diaphragm: 12 percent pregnancy risk


  • Women who have not given birth: 12 percent pregnancy risk
  • Women who have given birth: 24 percent pregnancy risk

Male condom: 18 percent pregnancy risk

Female condom: 21 percent pregnancy risk

Spermicide: 28 percent pregnancy risk


Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD): A disease that is spread by sexual contact, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital warts, herpes, syphilis, and infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV): A virus that attacks certain cells of the body’s immune system and causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
Toxic Shock Syndrome: A severe illness caused by a bacterial infection.