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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Special Topics > Over-The-Counter Birth Control

Over-The-Counter Birth Control

Alternate Names : Over-The-Counter Contraception

Sexually active couples may use birth control methods to prevent unwanted pregnancies. The decision to prevent pregnancy can arise from personal situations or medical conditions. Over-the-counter birth control is available without a prescription in stores.

What is the information for this topic?

Over-the-counter birth control methods prevent the sperm from fertilizing an egg. Some methods are more convenient or acceptable to the couple than others. Cost, availability, and side effects may influence the couple's decision. A healthcare provider can help a couple decide which method is right for them.

Condoms, or synthetic sheaths, are available for men and women. Male condoms cover the penis to prevent semen from being deposited within the vagina. They also create a barrier against sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV. Female condoms cover the external genitals and the walls of the vagina. The failure rate is 3% to 14% for male condoms and 5% to 21% for female condoms. Condoms are more effective when they are used together with spermicides.

Vaginal spermicides are chemicals that kill the sperm in the vagina. They are applied using jellies, foams, creams, films, or suppositories. Spermicides have a high failure rate of about 5% to 24%.

The main risk of over-the-counter birth control methods is their failure rate. They do not work as well as some prescription birth control methods. Occasionally, one of the partners may have an allergic reaction to spermicide or condoms.

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