Contraception – Spermicides


The goal of contraception (or birth control) is to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. The majority of methods of contraception enable sexually active couples to temporarily avoid pregnancy. Permanent birth control is accomplished through sterilization. Be sure you know and understand the different types of birth control available to you, the risks and benefits of each, and any side effects, so that you can make an informed choice.
The vaginal spermicide (in various forms) is a chemical compound that contains one ingredient that kills sperm and another that provides a harmless base to carry the spermicidal agent. The base material is heavy and offers added protection by blocking the opening into the cervix. The choice between a foam, jelly, cream, tablet, or suppository will generally depend on personal preference. Most studies reveal that the tablets and suppositories are not as effective as other forms of chemical barriers. Foams are probably the most effective since they spread more evenly to coat the vagina and cervix.


  • The effectiveness of birth control ranges from 79-97%.
  • Do not involve the hormones used in some other forms of birth control that can have side effects.
  • Inexpensive and easily obtainable.
  • Do not require a prescription.
  • Do provide some degree of lubrication that is helpful for some couples during sexual intercourse.
  • Do not interfere with sensation during sex (as a condom does).
  • There is nothing to remove later.
  • Can be used as a supplement to other methods of birth control (male and female condoms; diaphragms).
  • Easily transported.
  • May be used when needed.
  • Offer some protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).


  • Not 100% effective for birth control.
  • Some of the products may not fully dissolve in the vagina and can cause friction during sexual intercourse.
  • The product must be applied before intercourse and left in the vaginal tract for at least 6 hours afterward (you cannot bathe or shower).
  • Some people have minor allergic reaction or irritation to the products; switching brands may help.


  • Fill the applicator with the product to be used. Current products available use either nonoxynol-9 or octoxynol 3 as the spermicidal agent.
  • Gently insert the applicator as far up into the vagina as you can make it go. This will be easier to do if you lie on your back.
  • Depress the plunger or squeeze the tube. If an aerosol foam product is used, shake can vigorously before use to ensure an even distribution of the spermicidal chemical.
  • Do not apply the product sooner than 1 hour before intercourse. You need not wait longer than 2 or 3 minutes after the application (except for suppositories which take 10 minutes to melt) before starting intercourse.
  • Wait at least 6 hours after intercourse before showering or bathing, or 8 hours for douching, if desired.
  • For proper use, always follow the directions that come with each particular product if they vary from these instructions.

No restrictions.