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Condoms & Male Birth Control

The only currently available  for male birth control options are condoms and surgery. At one time there was research in China on a male birth control pill called gossypol, but the side effects were terrible and the World Health Organization recommended all research be terminated on gossypol in the 1990s. Several drug companies are doing research on a hormone based male birth control pill, or hormone based injections, but these are several years from market. So, condoms remain the best method of male birth control short of sterilization. 

The good news is that you can buy condoms in a wide variety of different sizes, shapes, colors and textures that can be purchased discreetly on-line and delivered via post. You will enjoy a much wider selection of products and never have face the clerk at your corner pharmacy again. Click here for more information

The other good news is that condoms also protect you against STDs. For instance, the latest estimate is that 25% of all adult Americans have genital herpes, with a half million new cases expected per year. Most of these people do not even know they have the virus - either not recognizing the symptoms or have never had symptoms. Protect yourself - buy condoms here.

Comparison of Birth Control Side Effects

The following information about birth control and STD prevention is presented as a public service. The source is the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the comparison is intended to be a brief overview only, and is not presented as professional advice. 

Talk to your doctor or other health care professional about the advantages, risks and possible disadvantages and side effects of birth control types. Your comparison of these contraceptive methods should include a careful assessment of how the different methods would work in your life.

Note that chance alone has an 85% failure rate - 85 out of 100 women who depend on luck instead of birth control will become pregnant within a year.

Quick Reference Chart - Birth Control Types

  Failure Rate (percentage of women who become pregnant during the first year of use) Available without prescription? Protects against STDs including AIDS/HIV? Comments
Male Condom 11% Yes Yes - Best protection against STDs including HIV/AIDS and gonorrhea More effective with experience and when used with spermicide
Female Condom 21% Yes Yes - Protection against STDs including HIV/AIDS and gonorrhea - not as effective as male condom More effective with experience and when used with spermicide
Barrier Methods        
Sponge w/Spermicide 20-40% Yes No Inserted by woman
Spermicide alone 20-50% Yes No  
Cervical Cap 17-23% No No Inserted by Health Care Professional
Diaphragm  17% No No Inserted by woman immediately before intercourse and left in place at least six hours after
Hormonal Contraceptives        
The Pill 5% No  No Taken daily
"Morning After" Pill 20% No No Taken within 72 hours after unprotected intercourse 
Injections <1% No No Injection monthly or every 3 months
Implants  <1% No No Implanted and removed by health care professional - effective up to 5 years
Vaginal Ring 1-2% No No Inserted by the woman - remains in the vagina for 3 weeks, removed for 1 week. 
The Patch  1-2%     New patch is applied once a week for three weeks - not worn fourth week
Surgical Methods        
Male Sterilization <1% Major Surgery No  
Female Sterilization <1% Major Surgery No  
The Rhythm Methods        
Withdrawl 20-40% Yes No Depends on male's self-control, urination between acts to kill sperm is recommended 
Periodic Abstinence 25% Yes No  Post-ovulation abstinence is the most effective, calendar based is the least effective
Chance 85% Yes No   


  • Condom (Male) - The most prevalent form of male birth control. A sheath made of latex, animal membrane or polyurethane that is worn over a manís penis to prevent sperm from entering the womanís reproductive system. Condoms can help prevent the contracting of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.  Polyurethane condoms are extremely thin, warm to the body's temperature and are good for people with an allergy to latex. Condoms are applied immediately before and discarded after intercourse. Click here for assistance in selection and purchase.
  • Condom (Female) - is a strong, soft, sheath made of polyurethane or nitrile. The sheath has a flexible ring at each end and is inserted into the vagina up to 8 hours prior to intercourse. The inner ring aids insertion into the vagina and holds the condom in place while the outer ring remains outside of the vagina. They do not require the penis to be erect when inserted and do not need to be removed immediately after ejaculation. Female condoms can help prevent the contracting of some sexually transmitted diseases including HIV. Applied immediately before and discarded after intercourse. Click here for assistance in selection and purchase.


Disadvantages & Possible Side Effects: 

  • Decreased effectiveness if not used correctly and consistently
  • Some people are allergic to latex
  • Animal membrane condoms do not protect against HIV


  • Spermicide - A chemical, nonoxynol-9, that is delivered via foams, jellies, suppositories or creams. It is inserted directly into the vagina near the cervix between 5 and 90 minutes before sexual intercourse and left in place at least six to eight hours after to kill sperm before the sperm enters the uterus. Used alone or with Condoms and other Barrier Methods to increase their effectiveness in preventing pregnancy.


  • Can be used as a backup method

Disadvantages & Possible Side Effects: 

  • Generally less effective than other methods
  • Some people have allergic reactions

Hormonal Contraceptives

  • Hormonal contraceptives fall into two categories, single or combination contraceptives. They prevent pregnancy by releasing hormones that inhibit ovulation. Both types are available in different versions of the pill, the injection, the patch, or the vaginal ring.  
  • Oral Contraceptives - The Pill is taken orally on daily schedule, regardless of frequency of intercourse.
  • "Morning After" Pill  must be taken within 72 hours of having unprotected intercourse. 
  • Injections - Hormones are injected into the arm, thigh or buttocks once a month or every three months depending on brand. 
  • Implants - Hormones are contained in small sticks which are surgically  inserted under the skin in the arm.
  • Patch - Hormones are released into the skin from an adhesive patch that is worn continuously for one week before changing the patch. Patches are worn three weeks out of the month. 
  • Vaginal Ring - is a flexible ring made of plastic a woman places into the vagina and is left in place for three weeks out of the month then removed for a week. If removed for more than 3 hours, another method must be used until ring has been used continuously 7 days.
  • IUD - Small T-shaped copper or plastic device containing a hormonal contraceptive and inserted into the uterus by a doctor or health care professional. After insertion by physician, can remain in place for up to one or 10 years, depending on type.

Combination  Contraceptives with Trade Names:

  • Combination birth control pills (Alesse, Mircette, Loestrin, Lo/ovral, Demulen, Yasmin, Seasonale, Desogen, Nordette, Triphasil, Ortho Tri-Cyclen, Norinyl, Ortho-Novum, Ovral, etc.)
  • "Morning After" pill with progestin and estrogen (Preven, Ovral)
  • patch (Ortho Evra)
  • injection (Lunelle)
  • vaginal ring (NuvaRing)

Progestin-only contraceptives:

  • "Mini-pill" - Progestin-only pill (Nor-QD, Ovrette, Microval, Micronor, Errin, etc)
  • "Morning After" pill - progestin-only (Plan B)
  • injection (Depo Provera)
  • progesterone-releasing IUD (Progestasert, Mirena)
  • implant (Implanon, Norplant)

Possible Advantages

  • Highly effective contraception
  • May increase menstrual cycle regularity
  • May decrease iron deficiencies and anemia due to blood loss
  • May reduce the chance of developing ovarian and endometrial cancers
  • May help protect against non-cancerous breast tumors
  • May protect against pelvic inflammatory disease
  • May decrease the risk of ovarian cysts and ectopic pregnancies

Disadvantages & Possible Side Effects 

  • Excess hair growth or hair loss
  • Increased risk of developing blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks, particularly in women who smoke
  • Weight changes
  • Irregular/breakthrough bleeding 
  • Headaches, nausea, depression
  • Breast tenderness
  • Some risk for pregnant and/or lactating women

Internal Barrier Methods:

  • Diaphragm - A round rubber dome placed inside the vagina before intercourse and left in place at least six hours after. It covers the cervix and prevents sperm from entering - it should be used in combination with a spermicide. Can cause irritation and allergic reactions, infection of the urinary tract. Risk of toxic shock syndrome when kept in place longer than recommended.
  • Lea's Shield - A dome-shaped rubber disk with a valve and a loop that is put in place before intercourse and remain there 8 hours after intercourse. It is held in place by the vaginal wall and covers the upper vagina and cervix to block sperm and should be used with spermicide. Can cause discomfort for female and male partners, and has some risk of infection of the urinary tract.
  • Cervical Cap - A rubber device, smaller than a diaphragm, placed inside the vagina to provide an airtight seal over the cervix - should be used in combination with a spermicide. Can remain in place for 48 hours without reapplying spermicide for repeated intercourse. 
  • Sponge - A flexible polyurethane device placed inside the vagina to block the entry of sperm into the cervix - it should be used with spermicide. Inserted before intercourse and protects for repeated acts of intercourse for 24 hours without additional spermicide;  must be left in place for at least six hours after intercourse; must be removed and discarded within 30 hours of insertion. 


  • Effective contraceptive methods
  • See individual methods above

Disadvantages & Possible Side Effects: 

  • Diaphragm, cervical cap and sponge are less effective for women who have previously had children 
  • Cervical cap may be difficult to insert
  • Sponge may be difficult to remove
  • Diaphragm, cervical cap, shield and sponge can cause irritation and allergic reactions, infection of the urinary tract. Risk of toxic shock syndrome when not removed when recommended
  • IUD may cause cramps, pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, bleeding, perforation of uterus
  • See individual methods above for specific risks

Surgical Contraceptive Procedures:

  • Female Tubal Sterilization - The woman's fallopian tubes are blocked so the egg and sperm can't meet in the fallopian tube, preventing conception.

  • Male Vasectomy - Cutting, then tying or sealing a male's vas deferens so that the sperm can't travel from the testicles to the penis.


  • Highly effective contraception
  • Causes permanent infertility
  • One-time surgical procedure.
  • No other form of  birth control required 

Disadvantages & Possible Side Effects: 

  • No STD protection
  • Procedure is permanent
  • All surgery entails some risk of post-surgical complications such as pain, bleeding, infection, other complications

Rhythm Methods:

  • Withdrawal - In the withdrawal method, the man removes his penis from the womanís vagina before ejaculation occurs. However, this method is known to have limited effectiveness.
  • Periodic Abstinence - Avoiding intercourse during the times the woman is most likely to become pregnant. Also known as natural birth control, the rhythm method, or fertility observation. Includes a number of methods designed to coordinate the timing of sexual intercourse with the least fertile times of the menstrual cycle.


  • Most economical

Disadvantages & Possible Side Effects: 

  • Less effective than most other methods 
  • Requires constant monitoring of body functions and/or the calendar to determine ovulation



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