Spermicides are substances inserted into a woman’s vagina prior
to intercourse. They are designed to kill sperm on contact. They come
in many forms - creams, gels, foams, films, and tablets. Spermicide can
be used alone as a method of birth control; however, it should be noted
that couples who use only spermicide have a higher pregnancy rate than
those who combine it with another form of protection, such as condoms
or oral contraceptives.
Advantages of Using Spermicides
- There are several advantages in using a spermicide as a form of birth
- It does not require a prescription from a doctor and is available
over the counter in many clinics, drugstores and grocery stores
- It is used only at the time when it is needed, just prior to intercourse
- It does not interfere with the body’s hormonal balance
- It provides extra lubrication during intercourse, which often enhances
Disadvantages of Using Spermicides
There are also disadvantages in using a spermicide:
- Studies have shown that using a spermicide alone as a form of birth
control is risky. However, it can be easily combined with other forms
of birth control, such as condoms, oral contraceptives, diaphragms,
sponges and cervical caps, to ensure more thorough protection
- Its application can be a little messy
- Many are deemed to have somewhat of a foul taste
- It does not protect against the transmission of HIV or other sexually
- Some women experience a negative reaction to certain spermicides;
a change of brand usually rectifies the situation. The most common active
ingredient in a spermicide is nonxynol-9, which can produce a number
of side-effects including vaginal irritation, itching and burning of
the sexual organs (in both women and men), bacterial vaginosis, yeast
infections and urinary tract infections. Nonetheless, studies show that
few women (3%-5%) discontinue the use of spermicide due to side-effects.
Warnings and Instructions
When using a spermicide, always follow the directions on the product’s
label or the instructions of a healthcare professional. It is to be inserted
high in the vagina and must cover the cervix. Use the correct amount and
wait the required time between insertion and engaging in intercourse.
A new application of spermicide must be performed each time you have sex.
Women must refrain from showering or douching for at least six hours after
intercourse with spermicide.