How to Pick the Barrier Method for You
How to Pick the Barrier Method for You
It is Sexual Health Awareness Month, which for a lot of people conjures up thoughts about STIs, safer sex, and preventing pregnancy which is totally fair. If that is an aspect of sexual health and wellness that is important to you then barrier methods and contraceptives might be on your mind. For a lot of people, external condoms are the only barrier method they use, but what if I told you there were more options available, and some options were better suited for different activities? Well, that is the case, and I am going to help you better understand how to pick the right barrier method for you!
What are barrier methods?
Barrier methods are forms of contraceptives that act as a barrier to prevent pregnancy by making it so that sperm cannot make its way through the cervix to meet an egg. Barrier methods also help with minimizing the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Barrier methods include condoms (external and internal), diaphragms, cervical caps, sponges, dental dams, and latex underwear. Barrier methods should be considered for all forms of sexual activity where semen might be present, even if it isn’t penetrative sex to be as cautious as possible if you do not want to get pregnant.
Questions to ask before deciding.
- What activities do I think I will be engaging in? Obviously, things change in the moment, and you may choose to explore other activities and not have barrier methods for them, but thinking ahead helps you to be as prepared as possible.
- Do I need something that is longer lasting or can be put in advance? If you feel like putting on or in a barrier method kills the mood you can explore different options that allow you to put them in or on well in advance without it being a problem, like latex underwear, internal condoms, diaphragms, sponges, and cervical caps.
- Do I need alternative materials because of allergies? If you or someone you are engaging in sexual activity with have an allergy you need to be mindful of ingredients for different methods and adjust accordingly. Latex allergies are common and is one of the most popular materials for condoms, but they also have polyurethane, polyisoprene, and synthetic polyisoprene.
- Do I want something reusable or something that can be thrown away after every use? If you want something reusable diaphragms, cervical caps, and sponges are your best options. Condoms (external and internal), latex underwear, and dental dams are all one-time-use products.
- What is accessible to purchase and carry with you? Most people don’t enjoy carrying around everything under the sun, so you probably don’t want to have to keep every barrier method on you. It also isn’t feasible since some need or should be fitted specifically for your body, mainly diaphragms and cervical caps. Things like external condoms and latex underwear are a bit easier to come by and have on hand.
If you are going to engage in penetrative play you have a lot of options, external condoms, internal condoms, diaphragms, cervical caps, and sponges. If it is penetrative play with toys, external condoms are a great option because you put them over toys making clean-up much easier. If you are engaging in penetrative play with a partner that has a penis all options are available to you, but you are going to want to weigh the answers to the above questions to make that choice.
If you are engaging in oral play on the penis, you can use external condoms. For oral sex on the vulva, you can use latex underwear, dental dams, and internal condoms (because they have an outer portion that can cover the labia). With anal oral play, you can use internal condoms, dental dams, and latex underwear as well.
If you still need some help in deciding or are a more visual person, here is a hand dandy flowchart that should make it easier to remember.
Flowchart for ease of selection
Regardless of the barrier method you choose or don’t choose knowing all the options available to you helps you to make the most informed decisions about your sexual health and safer sex practices and that is what matters most. And if this article has your interest piqued to learn more about all the different contraceptives available to you and how they work you should keep learning more! Knowledge is power.