Spermicide - How to Use, Effectiveness & Risks

Spermicide for Birth Control

You must have heard about various birth control methods. Let’s explore one of the options, which is considered to be effective in preventing unwanted pregnancies. Although there are many options for birth control, a spermicide is the easiest of all. It is a birth control method that does not involve continuous usage.

What Is Spermicide?

A spermicide is a birth control method that reduces sperm movement during intercourse, thus reducing the chances of conceiving. It usually comes in the form of gel, suppositories, foam or films. It is sold over the counter and can be used along with other birth control pills. A spermicide is an effective form of birth control that has helped many couples.


Types of Spermicide

Spermicides come in various forms, such as:

  • Spermicidal foam
  • Contraceptive film
  • Spermicidal jelly
  • Contraceptive gels, foams or jelly
  • Spermicidal creams and gels

How Does It Work?

Spermicide is a chemical that is used to kill sperms before they reach the cervix. It is used before having sex to prevent pregnancies. It works in two ways:

  • Prevents any sperm from fertilizing the egg.
  • Makes the sperm immobile (kills it), so that it doesn’t reach the egg.

Effectiveness of Spermicide

Spermicide is like most of the other contraceptive methods. It is safe and proven, but it does not provide 100 per cent protection against pregnancy. They have to be used correctly, and they are active for a given period. Even if all the steps are followed with care, there are 28 in every 100 women who have conceived. Spermicide effectiveness rate is 75% when used without any other contraception. Nevertheless, it is better than taking no birth control at all, moreover, women can use spermicides instead of OCP (Oral contraceptive pills) which have side effects.

Alternative Contraception

How to Make Spermicide More Effective

It is effective to use a spermicide along with other contraceptive methods such as pills or condoms. If you are using a spermicide, it is best that it is used just 10 minutes before the intercourse. Sometimes, it may take longer to be effective. Also, it is advised not to rely on its effectiveness after an hour of insertion as it might lose its effectiveness after an hour. To be 100% sure of any preventive method, it is better than the male partner pulls out before he can ejaculate. This ensures that the sperm does not enter the vagina at all.

Can Spermicide Prevent STDs?

Spermicide is like any other birth control method. It is not sure-shot protection when it comes to STDs. In fact, it can increase your chances of contracting an infection or STD when used very frequently. The chemical in the spermicide can irritate your vagina or your partner’s penis, making it more vulnerable to germs entering your body. If it is used along with condoms, then it is very effective in preventing STDs.

How to Use It

Using a spermicide is fairly easy. The spermicide you buy will have a small instruction leaflet on it. Follow those instructions carefully.

Spermicide is gel, lotion or foam

Find a comfortable position or a place to stand or lie down. Insert the film or gel or sponge or suppositories into your vagina slowly. It is similar to using a tampon. Read the instruction to find out how long it will be effective and also how long does it take to become effective. Some spermicides take 10-15 minutes to get into action and most of them last only for 1 hour. If you need to have sex for more than an hour or multiple times, then you need to use extra spermicides, but this will cause irritation and expose you to possible STDs. Hence, check the package instructions before buying or using any spermicides.

Are Spermicides a Reversible Method of Birth Control?

Spermicides are not a permanent solution for birth control. It is just a quick and convenient method. The effect of a spermicide is very limited (a few hours). Hence, it is completely reversible.

Can You Use it With Condoms?

Yes, it is very effective when you use it with condoms. Using both spermicide and condoms can help prevent STDs, too.

Where Can You Buy Spermicide and How Much Does it Cost?

Spermicide is sold over the counter, online and at pharmacies. They are also sold at grocery stores, clinics, supermarkets and some health centres. You do not need a prescription, and there is no age restriction for purchasing a spermicide.

The cost of a spermicide varies based on its brand and type. They are also available for free in some health centres.

Benefits of Spermicide

Following are some benefits of spermicides:

It Does Not Have Any Hormones

A spermicide is a good option for people who cannot take hormonal medicines as some oral contraceptive pills have hormonal medicines. They are also used when one does not want to take internal medications.

It is Cost-Effective and Convenient

Spermicides are very cheap, and some are available for free. It is also convenient as they do not need a doctor’s prescription. They also come in easy-to-carry packages and are sold in grocery stores in your neighbourhood.

Spermicides Do Not Interrupt the Sexual Activity

It can be used 15 minutes before you start your sexual activity so there is no need for you to pause before intercourse to use birth control. They also last close to an hour, so, you can enjoy your moments without interruptions.

Does Not Interfere With Other Medications

As spermicides are non-hormonal, they do not interfere with any other medicines you take.

Spermicide is taken with other medicines also

Disadvantages of Spermicides

The disadvantages are as follows;

Spermicides Can Be Messy

Some forms of spermicides are very messy like the gels, foams and suppositories as they ooze out of the vagina. The film is better as it is not too messy.

Spermicide Does Not Protect From STDs

Spermicides are not preventive options when it comes to STDs. In fact, they are prone to cause STDs when overused. Overuse of spermicides causes damage to the soft genital tissues, making them more vulnerable to STDs and infections.

You Have to Use It Wisely

Spermicides have a time frame for working. If you have had intercourse before it is active or after it is inactive then you might be in trouble. Even multiple or frequent usage cause problems. You need to use it every time you have sex, and it cannot be reused. Hence, you need to be wise to use it appropriately.

Spermicides Have Side Effects

Nonoxynol-9, an ingredient in spermicides irritates and increase the risk of HIV and STDs. Spermicide side effects in some people can be in the form of irritation when using it. If you feel sore or irritation in your vagina or your partner’s penis then you are allergic to that spermicide. You can try other brands or forms in that case.

Can You Use Spermicide While Breastfeeding?

It is quite safe to use spermicides while breastfeeding as they do not contain any hormonal components.

New mothers can also use spermicide

What If You Forgot Using Spermicide or You Misused It

It might be a cause for concern if you use it wrongly. It is better if you have birth control pills handy, using these pills as early as possible help prevent unwanted pregnancies.

Who Should Avoid Spermicides

Avoid spermicides if you have the following:

  • You or your partner shows an allergic reaction to the spermicides, which might be in the form of gels, creams or spermicide pill form.
  • If you have any vaginal abnormalities such as a double cervix or vaginal septum, it might be difficult to fix the spermicide.
  • If you are not able to fix it comfortably
  • If you are prone to HIV or STDs, it might increase the risk of these infections.

Using spermicides is one of the easiest contraceptive methods. If it is used correctly and timely, it can be very effective, but you should have a full understanding of the risk and benefits involved in choosing to use a spermicide.

Also Read:  The Morning After Pill – All Your Questions Answered

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