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London, England, International Planned Parenthood Federation, 1985. 48 p. (IPPF Medical Publications.)This booklet, published by the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), discusses the mode of action of barrier methods of contraception--their advantages, disadvantages, and effectiveness. Each method is dealt with in detail under the headings of 'application,' 'instruction to users,' 'advantages,' 'disadvantages and side-effects' and 'effectiveness.' Areas of research and safety issues are also discussed. The various types of barrier contraceptives are: 1) spermicides--creams, jellies, melting suppositories, foaming suppositories or tablets, and aerosol foams; 2) unmedicated mechanical barriers--vagnial diaphrams and cervical caps, including cavity-rim, Vimule and vault caps; 3) medicated mechanical barriers--vaginal sponges; and 4) condoms. When used properly and conscientiously, the contraceptive agents are both safe and effective, although their mode of action may be more complex than has been assumed in the past. The function of barrier contraceptives is to block the passage of sperm into the cervical mucus; the condom prevents sperm from being deposited in the vagina, whereas the vaginal barriers interfere with sperm transport after semen has entered the vagina. In addition to blocking the intial wave of sperm form entering the cervix, the spermicidal preparations also kill the sperm within the vagina; most products now in use contain a nonionic surface active agent as a spermicide. Favorable attributes of barrier methods are: 1) few local side effects, 2) no highly skilled medical intervention is needed, 3) they are applied locally in the vagina, 4) they may inhibit sexually transmitted diseases, 5) there are few medical contraindications to their use, and 6) most are available without prescription. Disadvantages are: 1) they are generally less effective than most hormonal contraceptive and IUDs, 2) strong motivation is required for successful use, 3) they require manipulation of the genitalia, 4) some types are inconvenient or messy, and 5) most must be applied at or near the time of sexual intercourse. New spermicides, custom fitted cervical caps, and enzyme inhibitors are some of the new methods being researched and developed. The appendix includes the IPPF policy statement on barrier methods of contraception.