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Here are some of the most common questions we hear women ask about spermicide. We hope you find the answers helpful.
Spermicide is a birth control method that contains chemicals that stop sperm from moving. Spermicides are available in different forms, including creams, film, foams, gels, and suppositories.
Spermicide can be used alone, or it can be used with other birth control methods to make them more effective. It is always used with the diaphragm and cervical cap.
Spermicides prevent pregnancy by keeping sperm from joining with an egg. Spermicides are inserted deep into the vagina shortly before intercourse. They
Effectiveness is an important and common concern when choosing a birth control method.
Like all birth control methods, spermicide is more effective when you use it correctly.
When used alone, spermicide is not very effective. You can make it more effective if you also use a female condom.
Your partner can help you make spermicide more effective by using a latex condom or pulling out before ejaculation.
But even if you don't use another method along with spermicide, your chance of getting pregnant is much less than if you use no birth control at all.
Keep in mind that spermicide cannot reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections. Use latex or female condoms to reduce the risk of infection.
Most women can use spermicide safely. Some people are allergic to spermicides or get skin irritations from them. If a spermicide irritates your vagina or your partner's penis, you might try changing brands.
Using spermicide is simple and convenient. Once you learn how, inserting the spermicide is easy. Women like spermicide because
Spermicide has several disadvantages:
The most commonly used spermicide in the U.S. is called nonoxynol-9. Nonoxynol-9 has certain risks. If it is used many times a day, or if it is used by people at risk for HIV, it may irritate tissue and increase the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
Each form of spermicide is used in a slightly different way. Be sure to read the instructions that are included in the packaging. Make sure you read and understand them before you use any of these products. If you do not use the spermicide as directed, it will be less effective.
In general, inserting spermicide is easy. You will lie down or squat, then gently insert the spermicide deep into your vagina using your fingers or an applicator.
For many types of contraceptive creams, film, foams, gels, and suppositories, you need to wait 10 minutes after you insert the spermicide before you can have intercourse. These methods typically remain effective for only one hour after insertion.
You need to insert more spermicide each time you have vaginal intercourse.
Women should not douche, unless they are told to by a health care provider. If you do douche, do not douche until 6-8 hours after intercourse.
Spermicide is available at your local Planned Parenthood health center, other family planning clinics, drugstores, and some supermarkets.
Applicator kits of foam and gel cost about $8. Refills cost $4-$8. Large cans of foam contain between 20 and 40 applications. Film and suppositories are also about $8.
Planned Parenthood works to make health care accessible and affordable. Some health centers are able to charge according to income. Most accept health insurance. If you qualify, Medicaid or other state programs may lower your health care costs.
Call your local Planned Parenthood health center to get specific information on costs.
Q&A with Dr. Cullins