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Nonoxynol-9 is a kind of spermicide. Spermicide foam, cream, jelly, film, and suppositories are inserted deep into the vagina shortly before intercourse. Creams and jellies are used with diaphragms and caps. The chemical spermicide — usually nonoxynol-9 — that they contain makes sperm stop moving, preventing it from joining with an egg.

Used alone, spermicides are among the least reliable methods of birth control — even with perfect use, they are only up to 85 percent effective against pregnancy, and they offer no protection against sexually transmitted infections. They are good backup, though, for condoms and pulling out.

Also, be aware that using the spermicide nonoxynol-9 many times a day, by people at risk for HIV, or for anal sex, may irritate tissue and increase the risk of HIV and other infections. (Most spermicide available in the U.S. contains nonoxynol-9.)

Tags: birth control, spermicide, nonoxynol-9

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