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What’s the sponge? Is it good for teens?

The sponge is a soft disc made of sponge-like material, filled with the spermicide nonoxynol-9. It’s spongy, round, and about two inches in diameter. It has a nylon loop attached to the bottom for removal. A woman wets the sponge with water and then inserts it into her vagina before she has vaginal intercourse. The sponge covers the cervix and absorbs semen.

The sponge can be used by women who want the convenience of an over-the-counter barrier method. It’s appealing to many women who need or want to avoid using hormonal birth control.

Women who are thinking about using the sponge need to keep in mind that it won’t protect against sexually transmitted infections. Latex and female condoms can reduce the risk of infection. Women should know that the sponge is also not as effective at preventing pregnancy as the condom or prescription methods of birth control, but it can be used with a condom to make it more effective.

The sponge is available at family planning centers, drugstores, online, and in some supermarkets. A health care provider can give you more information about the sponge. Or you can make an appointment with the Planned Parenthood health center nearest you to discuss your options.

Tags: the sponge, birth control