Barrier methods of contraception
Barrier methods are a form of contraception that work by stopping the sperm from travelling through the vagina to the uterus during sex to prevent the sperm and egg from meeting. These include condoms (internal and external), diaphragms and caps.
Condoms are a type of barrier method, and are the only contraceptive method which protects against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Click the tabs below to learn more about condoms (internal and external).
The internal condom (also called the female condom) is a thin plastic and loose-fitting sheath that is placed into and around the entrance of the vagina.
The internal condom works reasonably well at preventing pregnancy but its ability to stop a pregnancy largely depends it being used properly every time a couple has sex. This means it must be worn from the start to the finish of the sex act and a new one must be used for every sex act.
Perfect use: 95% effective. About 5 in 100 people who use an internal condom will get pregnant in a year.
Typical use: around 79% effective. Around 21 in 100 people will get pregnant in a year.
Read more about the internal condom.
The external condom (also called the male condom) is a very thin rubber or plastic sheath that goes over the penis. It only needs to be used when you have sex.
The external condom works reasonably well at preventing pregnancy, but its ability to stop a pregnancy largely depends on it being used properly every time you have sex. This means it must be worn from the start to the finish of the sex act, and a new one must be used for every sex act.
Perfect use: 98% effective. This means that 2 in 100 people whose partners use a condom will get pregnant in a year.
Typical use: around 82% effective. This means around 18 in 100 people will get pregnant in a year.
Read more about the external condom.
Learn more about contraception
Visit the pages below to learn more about different methods of contraception (short-acting and long-acting), and to find a useful comparison tool to help you find a contraceptive method that is right for you.
Which method is right for me?
Find a contraception comparison tool that can help you find the right method for you.
Short-acting methods include the contraceptive pill, patch and ring.
Long-acting contraceptive methods include the coils, the injection and the implant.