Contraception
 
Spermicide
 
What is it?
A spermicide is a chemical contraceptive available in different forms: gel, cream, sponges, foam, suppositories, film and vaginal tablets.

 
How does it work?
•    Spermicide blocks the cervix and destroys sperm.
•    Spermicides must be used in conjunction with another form of contraception (e.g. the condom) to be sufficiently effective.

 
How is it used?
•    Every product comes with specific directions, which should be read prior to use.
•    Spermicide is placed inside the vagina, near the cervix 15 to 30 minutes prior to penetration.
•    Most types of spermicide (except for the sponge), must be reapplied with each penetration.

 
Advantages

•    Spermicides are sold in the pharmacy without a prescription.
•    Some are easy to use (gel, cream, foam, suppository) while others require more specific handling (sponge, film).
•    Some spermicides also have a lubricating effect.

 
Disadvantages
•    Spermicides don’t protect against the transmission of STIs or HIV.
•    They may cause irritation or allergies.
•    Used alone, spermicides are not effective enough as a form of birth control. They must be used in conjunction with another form of contraceptive, such as a condom.
•    As most spermicides must be applied shortly before each vaginal penetration, their use may interrupt foreplay.
•    Spermicides are sometimes messy, tend to drip out of the vagina and have an unpleasant taste.

 
Cost and effectiveness
•    Cost: $9 to $21, depending on the type
•    Effectiveness: 70 to 92%, depending on the active ingredient. Foam is the most effective as it spreads well in the vagina.

 
Precautions
•    To ensure the spermicide remains effective, avoid taking a shower or bath, or swimming in a pool for six to eight hours after intercourse.
•    Use an additional contraceptive method to increase effectiveness (e.g. a condom).
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