What is Spermicide?
Spermicide is a substance containing chemicals, such as nonoxynol-9 whose work is to immobilize or kill sperms by stopping them from moving. Spermicides are available in different forms, including foams, creams, film, gels and suppositories. Spermicide is placed into the vagina just before intercourse to help prevent the sperms from entering the uterus. It is also available without a prescription.
The surprising part is that spermicide is a birth control method that is not highly effective when used by itself. However, spermicide can be used with a barrier method such a condom, cervical cap or diaphragm to prevent pregnancy. Remember spermicide does not guarantee full protection from sexually transmitted infections.
How Does Spermicide Work?
Spermicide films are inserted into the vagina where they dissolve. Most women prefer this method over other types of spermicides since the films are significantly less messy to use as compared to jellies, creams, and foams. However, unlike jellies and creams, spermicidal foams, films, and suppositories do not necessarily offer any additional lubrication.
Once inserted into the vagina, spermicides help to:
- Block the cervix, so that the sperm cannot reach an egg
- Keep the sperm from moving, so that they cannot come into contact with the egg
How Do You Use Spermicide?
Each form of the spermicide is utilized in a different way. Therefore, ensure you read the instructions that are included in the packaging and understand them before using any of the products. Failure to use the spermicide as directed will make it less efficient.
Inserting the spermicide is quite easy. Simply lie down or squat and then insert the spermicide gently deep into your vagina using your fingers or an applicator. Depending on the form of spermicides, you need to wait for 10 minutes after you insert the spermicide before having intercourse. These methods remain useful for a duration of one hour after insertion. Therefore, you need to add more spermicide each time you have vaginal intercourse.
How Effective Is Spermicide?
The effectiveness of spermicide is an important concern when it comes to choosing a birth control method. Just like all other birth control methods, spermicide is more efficient when used correctly.
- It is said that if women always use spermicide as directed, 15 out of 100 have the possibility of becoming pregnant every year.
- If women fail to use spermicide as per the directives, 29 out of 100 will definitely become pregnant every year.
When spermicide is used alone, it’s not very effective. Therefore, you can make it more effective if you use a female condom. At this point, your partner/lover can assist you in making spermicide a little bit more effective through using a latex condom or not ejaculating in the vagina.
Keep in mind, that spermicide cannot necessarily reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections. Ensure that you use latex or female condoms to reduce the risk of infection.
What are the advantages and disadvantages?
Using spermicide is quite simple and convenient. Once you learn the trick of inserting the spermicide it is very easy.
Advantages of Spermicide
- Spermicide can be implanted by your partner before sex
- Easier to carry in your pocket or purse
- It doesn’t have a significant effect on the natural hormones of a woman
- It is very easy to get spermicides
- Can be used during breastfeeding
- It doesn’t require a prescription
Disadvantages of Spermicide
- When not used correctly as directed, spermicides may not form a barrier over the cervix.
- It doesn’t give 100 percent protection against sexually transmitted infections (STD) such as AIDS/HIV.
- Spermicide may irritate the penis or vagina. Switching brands may help solve this problem.
Side Effects of Spermicide
Spermicide has few side effects such as:
- Temporary local skin irritation mostly in the vagina, vulva or penis which are the most common places associated with spermicide use
- Use of nonpxynol-9 containing spermicide two times or more a day may result in vulvovaginal epithelial disruption as well as increased risk of HIV acquisition.
Is Spermicide Safe?
Most women can use spermicide safely. However, some people are allergic to spermicides while others get skin irritations from them. If a spermicide causes an irritation in your vagina or partner’s penis, try switching the brands.