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Comparison of barrier methods for contraception

A comparison of the safety of mechanical methods of contraception that work according to the barrier principle, preventing sperm from entering the uterus.

Barrier methods can be used spontaneously and in addition to natural methods. Their reliability depends to a great extent on the skill of the couple using them. However, these methods should be used with particular care on days with cervical mucus.

Mechanical methodReliability = Pearl IndexNotes
Condom0.6 - 12Choose the right size!
Diaphragm + spermicide1 – 20Fitting (1) and practice required
FemCup + spermicide2 to 18Fitting (1) and practice required
Lea Contraceptivum + spermicide2 - 3?One size only - no studies!
Spermicide3 – 21Comparatively unreliable on its own, may cause irritation
Female condom5 – 25

Notes on the footnotes:
  1. Needs to be fitted by a doctor, a clinic, a family planning centre, or a women's health centre.