Over-the-counter methods for women are reversible barrier methods of birth control. They include:
• contraceptive foams
• contraceptive creams
• contraceptive jellies
• contraceptive films
• contraceptive suppository capsules
• vaginal pouches (female condoms)
If you choose one of the over-the-counter methods for women, you will insert it deep into the vagina before intercourse. Foams, creams, jellies, films, and suppositories are liquids or solids that melt after they are inserted. They contain chemicals that immobilize sperm (spermicide).
Vaginal pouches are polyurethane sheaths with flexible rings at each end. The pouch is inserted deep into the vagina like a diaphragm. The ring at the closed end holds the pouch in the vagina. The ring at the open end stays outside the vaginal opening.
How Over-the-Counter Methods for Women Work
Contraceptive foams block the entrance to the uterus with bubbles and contain a spermicide that immobilizes sperm, preventing it from joining with the egg.
Contraceptive creams, jellies, films, and suppositories melt into a thick liquid throughout the vagina. They block the entrance to the uterus and contain spermicide that immobilizes sperm.
Vaginal pouches collect semen before, during, and after ejaculation and keep sperm from entering the vagina.
Effectiveness of Over-the-Counter Methods for Women
Of 100 women who use contraceptive foams, creams, jellies, films, or suppositories, 21 will become pregnant during the first year of typical use. Five will become pregnant with perfect use. Using a condom increases effectiveness.
These over-the-counter methods may provide some protection against certain sexually transmitted infections, including chlamydia and gonorrhea.
Of 100 women who use vaginal pouches, 24 will become pregnant during the first year of typical use. Ten will become pregnant with perfect use.
The pouch provides some protection against many sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
Advantages of Over-the-Counter Methods for Women
• All are easy to buy in drugstores and some supermarkets.
• Prescriptions or fittings are unnecessary.
• Once learned, insertion is easy and may be done by your partner as part of sex play.
Vaginal pouches allow women to take responsibility for protection against sexually transmitted infections.