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Spermicides (barrier method of contraception)

Spermicides are special chemical contraceptive products that are considered as barrier method of family planning (birth control). These sperm killing chemicals (nonoxynol-9 or others) can stop sperm from reaching ovulated mature egg by setting up a chemical block in cervix (at the entrance to uterus). After sexual contact spermicide trap sperm in foam or gel barrier; at the same time spermicide chemicals destroy all active spermatozoids. Spermicide should be inserted into vagina before planned sexual contact – it can prevent unwanted pregnancy. Spermicides come in form of jelly, foam or cream – they are cheap, safe, easy to use and pretty effective.

Spermicide types

Modern market offer different types of spermicide – creams, gels, film, foams and suppositories. Many women prefer suppositories because they are soft easy for insertion and they melt very fast in warm vaginal environment becoming creamy. Different companies produce several brands of spermicides but all are working in the same way (creating blocking barrier, stopping spermatozoids from moving through cervix). Every woman should try few types of spermicides and choose the one which is most convenient (easy to use, with pleasant smell and with affordable price).

Some spermicides pretend preventing also sexually transmitted infections which could be the best solution for contraception.

In principle, the most important is to use spermicide correctly – every time before starting sexual contacts.

Spermicide mode of action


Spermicide mode of action includes two components:

  • Spermicide (cream, gel, foam, film or suppository) inserted into vagina block entrance of cervix;
  • Spermicide chemicals deactivate spermatozoids by slowing down their movement activity and stop their movement through cervix to egg;
  • Some spermicides are designed to kill (destroy) spermatozoids before they reach uterus.

Spermicide effectiveness

According to health statistics, vaginal spermicides (when used alone) can be effective up to 78-80% cases. The failure rate can be up 28%. Most recommended is dual contraception (spermicide combined with male condom) – this combination can be effective up to 95-98%. In addition, dual contraception with condom can prevent all sexually transmitted diseases. Spermicide can be used with another barrier method of contraception such as diaphragm or cervical cap.

In general, spermicide effectiveness depends on how you use it. It is most effective when you use it correctly every single time before having sexual vaginal contacts. While using spermicide, never forget about risks of getting sexually transmitted infections.

Spermicides advantages

  • Spermicide has no hormonal component;
  • Spermicides are produced in several forms which could satisfy different personal needs;
  • Spermicide can be used easily (without any medical consultations);
  • Spermicide doesn’t interrupt sex;
  • Spermicides are pretty cheap (affordable) and accessible (can be found in any grocery store);
  • Spermicide can be carried easily (bag, suitcase, computer set);
  • Combined with other barrier methods (condom, diaphragm, cervical cap), spermicides can be very effective up to 97-98%.

Spermicides disadvantages

  • Could trigger irritation or allergic reactions;
  • Effective for limited period of time;
  • Doesn’t protect from sexually transmitted infections;
  • Should be inserted into vagina each time before sexual contact (less than 20 minutes in advance).

Spermicide side effects

  • Local vaginal irritation or itching or redness,
  • Allergic reaction to certain types of spermicides (kind of burning sensation and itching),
  • Spermicide can be messy.

How to use spermicide

Spermidices usually have instruction, expiration date and sometimes applicators (for easy insertion). Always read instruction and check expiration date. Spermicide insertion into the vagina is usually very easy (similar to tampon insertion). Insertion should be done in relaxed and comfortable position – can be standing with one foot on chair or in lying position or in squat position. Spermicide (cream, film, foam, gel or suppository) should be inserted (with or without applicator) gently deep into the vagina.

Timing is very important. According to instruction, some spermicides should be inserted at least 10-15 minutes before sexual contacts; some are effective only after one hour. It is recommended to use spermicides only once a day (better once every few days). If you use spermicide few times per day, you could have side effects such as irritation or itching.

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