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Using the birth control sponge correctly every time you have sex is important. Luckily, the sponge is easy to get the hang of — it’s similar to putting in a tampon.

How do I insert the sponge?

1. Wash your hands with soap and water.

2. Take the sponge out of the wrapper and wet it with clean water.

3. Gently squeeze the sponge until it’s sudsy. It needs to be totally wet to activate all of the spermicide. Don’t squeeze it dry — the sponge should be wet and foamy when you insert it.

4. With the indented side of the sponge facing up, fold the sides upward (away from the fabric loop on the bottom) until it’s long and narrow. When you insert the sponge, the indented side should face the front side of your body and the fabric loop side should face the back side of your body.

5. Get into a comfortable position, like when you’re putting in a tampon. You can stand with one foot on a chair, sit on the edge of a chair, lie down, or squat — whatever works for you.

6. Slide the sponge deep into your vagina and push it as far back as you can with your fingers. The sponge will unfold and cover your cervix when you let go.

7. Check the placement of the sponge by sliding your finger around the edge, making sure your cervix is covered. You should be able to feel the fabric loop on the bottom of the sponge.

Long story short: just wet and squeeze the sponge, fold it, slide it in, and make sure it’s in the right place.  Don’t stress about remembering every little step — directions come in the package. Using the sponge gets easier the more you do it.

When can I put a sponge in?

The birth control sponge starts working as soon as you activate the spermicide with water and put it in your vagina.

The sponge can be inserted up to 24 hours before sex, so you can get your birth control in place BEFORE the action starts — interruption free.  And once the sponge is in, you can have sex as many times as you want in the next 24 hours without replacing it.

How long do I leave the sponge in?

Always leave the sponge in place for at least 6 hours after sex, but don’t leave the sponge in your vagina for more than 30 hours total. (This means you can safely have sex for up to 24 hours after putting in the sponge, and still leave it in for the required 6 hours after sex.)

You don’t have to leave the sponge in for the full 30 hours — just make sure you leave it in for at least 6 hours after the last time you had sex.

How do I take the sponge out?

Slide a clean finger inside your vagina and hook it around the fabric loop on the bottom of the sponge. Then slowly and gently glide the sponge out of your vagina. You can grab the sponge itself to pull it out if you can’t find the fabric loop.

If you have a hard time reaching the sponge, bear down (push with your vaginal muscles like you’re going to the bathroom) while reaching for it.

Toss the used sponge into the trash — don’t flush it down the toilet.

Sponges aren’t reusable, and you can’t take them out and put them back in. Each sponge is only good for one 24-hour period once it’s inside your vagina.

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Sponge

  • 76-88% effective

  • Costs up to $15 for 3

  • No prescription required

  • Put it in before sex

The sponge doesn’t protect you from STDs. Use a condom with your sponge to help stop pregnancy and STDs.
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