Male and female condoms1
Condoms are a form of barrier contraception. They are usually made out of latex but you can get them made latex-free and plastic (e.g. polyurethane) instead, though it can affect the effectiveness of the condom slightly. They are the only form of contraception that prevents both pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases, like HIV. The male condom fits over an erect penis before sex. A teat at the end holds the sperm once ejaculated, and is then thrown away. This makes sure no sperm comes in contact with the female genitals. The female condom is worn inside the vagina to stop sperm getting to the womb. Again, after sex the condom is thrown away. The advantages of this method are that they are inexpensive. They can be bought in boxes, and also young people can get free condoms from sexual health clinics and sometimes where they study, like their college if they have a sexual health scheme. Condoms are easy to dispose of, and are the only type of contraception that protect from both pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases. When used correctly, they have a good percentage of effectiveness, ranging from 95-98%. The disadvantages of the condom are that they can break, releasing sperm into the female, which could cause pregnancy. They also have an expiration date, as they deteriorate with age, and so the latex may break, again causing pregnancy. Religion can be a big issue with contraception. They believe it is unethical and morally wrong to use them, because you are ‘killing a life’. Buddhists believe sex should be for creating life, not pleasure3. The Catholic Pope, Benedict XVI, banned condoms from being used in Vatican, one of the holy cities in Italy. This can cause conflict with other countries as sexually-transmitted disease cases rise from lack of contraception. Some religions however, allow some methods of contraception. If the method just prevents fertilisation, like the condom, it is acceptable. But other methods, like the IUD that stops fertilised ova from implanting are wrong, as life has already begun, and the life is being killed. 2
Diaphragms and caps fit inside the vagina and prevent sperm from passing through the cervix into the uterus of the woman. It is held in place by suction. Diaphragm’s are domes, usually soft and thin, and are made of latex or silicone. Caps are made of the same material, just a smaller size. They are used in conjunction with spermicide, which kills sperm. It can be inserted by yourself, and only needed when having sex, but must be left in for more than six hours after sex. When used correctly, it is between 92-96% effective. This means it is not the most effective method, meaning you may conceive a child even on this method of contraception. An advantage as well as a disadvantage is that it provides limited protection against STI’s, giving some protection, but not completely, putting either you or your partner at risk. Another disadvantage is that you have to learn how to put them in properly. If you don’t put it in correctly sperm can reach the uterus, giving the risk of pregnancy. Because the diaphragm and cap can be put in before sex, it can be done at a convenient time beforehand. This also means that it only needs to be used when you are sexually active. This is a more flexible method than those who need regular contraception. Alongside this advantage, it means you are in control of your contraception. There are also no serious health risks or any side effects associated with this method. This means you can go about your daily life as normal. 4
IUD with copper1
This is a small T-shaped device, which is made from plastic and copper. It used to be called the coil. It fits into the uterus of a woman and prevents implantation of a fertilised ovum. There are different sizes, and is fitted by a professional doctor. It lasts for a long time, roughly five to ten...