Tip of the Week – Barrier Methods of Birth Control


You may have patient’s with questions about which methods of barrier contraception are available or how to correctly use them. Barrier methods of birth control include male and female condoms, diaphrams, cervical caps, and sponges. There are a number of advantages to barrier contraception that may make it the best option for your patients. Barrier methods of birth control:

  • Do not affect a person’s future fertility.
  • Are only used at the time of sexual intercourse.
  • Are safe for use while breastfeeding.
  • Do not affect other health conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes
  • May be less expensive than hormonal methods of birth control, and are often available without a prescription

The male condom is a commonly purchased barrier contraceptive that is readily available in most retail pharmacy settings. It is important that patients know:

  • Put a condom on before any sexual contact. Use a new condom every time you have
    sex. Never use 2 male condoms together or a male and vaginal condom together. It increases the risk of both condoms breaking.
  • Never reuse condoms. Store them at room temperature and out of direct sunlight.
    You can store latex condoms in a wallet for up to 1 month.
  • Most condoms are lubricated. This helps prevent breakage and can increase feeling. If you want more lubrication, use water or silicone-based lubricant (read the product label).
  • Don’t use oil products (e.g., body lotion, petroleum jelly) with a latex condom—it will break.
  • Always check the expiry date and don’t use if expired. Squeeze the package
    to make sure it’s sealed—no air should come out.
  • For people who have an allergy to latex, polyurethane condoms are available. Latex condoms are slightly more dependable than polyurethane condoms
  • Condoms also are the best method for reducing the risk of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

For more information on barrier methods of birth control visit MyHealth.Alberta and ReadyorNotAlberta.ca