Spermicide

Spermicide contains chemicals that stop sperm from moving. It can be a cream, film, foam, gel, or suppository. Whatever option you choose, you insert it deep in your vagina so that it keeps sperm from getting through your cervix and into your uterus.

Quick facts:

  • Easy to find, no hormones, and no prescription needed.
  • Effectiveness: spermicide is not verygood on its own. It works best when paired with another barrier method.
    • Perfect use:

      82%

    • Typical use:

      72%

  • Side effects: most do not have any problems, but you or your partner could have some irritation.
  • Effort: high. You need to apply it every time you have sex.

Spermicide

Quick facts:

Spermicide contains chemicals that stop sperm from moving. It can be a cream, film, foam, gel, or suppository. Whatever option you choose, you insert it deep in your vagina so that it keeps sperm from getting through your cervix and into your uterus.

  • Easy to find, no hormones, and no prescription needed.
  • Effectiveness: spermicide is not verygood on its own. It works best when paired with another barrier method.
    • Perfect use:

      82%

    • Typical use:

      72%

  • Side effects: most do not have any problems, but you or your partner could have some irritation.
  • Effort: high. You need to apply it every time you have sex.

Best if used with another method. Spermicide works best when paired with another method, like the diaphragm or condoms. You can use spermicide to make a barrier method more effective, but it is not very effective if used alone.

You would not mind getting pregnant. The failure rate for spermicide alone is high. If you do not want to get pregnant then you should use another method or only use spermicide in conjunction with another barrier method.

No prescription necessary. You do not need to see a medical provider to use spermicide. Use “find my method” to learn where you can get spermicide in your country. Consider getting some condoms at the same time.

Some people are allergic to spermicide. If you feel some irritation using spermicide, you may be allergic to it. Many spermicides and contraceptive gels sold contain the same active ingredient – Nonoxynol-9. If you are allergic to this then spermicide may not be the best option for you.

Both partners are HIV-free. One of the active ingredients, Nonxynol-9, causes changes in your sensitive skin. It makes you more susceptible to HIV. If you or your partner have HIV or have not been tested recently, you may want to choose a method that can help protect you both from HIV transmission.

Every type of spermicide is different, and there are a lot of types available. Be sure to read the instructions on the packaging and check the expiration date. Spermicide is easy to use: insert the spermicide with your fingers or with an applicator.

After insertion, some spermicides require that you wait ten minutes before having sex. These types of spermicides are also only effective for a single hour after you put them in. You will need to be careful with the timing of inserting spermicide and having sex.

Everyone is different. What you experience may not be the same thing as another woman.

The Positive:

  • Easy to use and convenient to get a hold of
  • Can be inserted as foreplay
  • Does not affect your hormones
  • No prescription necessary
  • Can be used while breastfeeding

The Negative:

  • Can be messy and/or leak out of your vagina
  • Might irritate your vagina or your partner’s penis
  • Some people are allergic to spermicide
  • You may not like the taste
  • Many spermicides contain Nonoxynol-9, which can cause irritation (especially if you use it more than once a day). That can lead to an increased risk of HIV and STI transmission.
  • Hard to remember to use if you are drunk

We are here to help you. If it still does not feel right, we have ideas for other methods. Just remember: if you change methods, make sure you use another method while you switch.

What if the spermicide causes irritation?

  • The irritation might be because of the brand of spermicide you are using. Try another kind if you want to keep using spermicide.
  • Still not working? If you are allergic to Nonoxynol-9, a main ingredient in many spermicides, you may need to check out another method. If you prefer something without hormones, condoms, female condoms, and the copper IUD could all be good options.
  • Try a different method: condominternal condom;  IUD

What if the spermicide is very messy?

  • Spermicide is messy. Try switching brands and make sure you are using your spermicide exactly as the instructions say you should. If you think it is too messy, consider using another method.
  • Still not working? If spermicide is not the best option for you, you may want to try a long-term, low-maintenance method like the IUD, the implant, or the shot. If you prefer a non-hormonal method without spermicide, you might want to try the ParaGard IUD or condoms.
  • Try a different method: condom; implant; internal condom; IUD; shot