The Best Spermicides: Options, Efficacy, and More
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Spermicide is a chemical that destroys sperm and reduces the chances of pregnancy. It is a contraceptive substance that a person can insert into their vagina. There are several different spermicide options including creams, gels, and films. People can use them alone or in combination with other barrier methods of birth control, such as condoms.
This article takes a closer look at what spermicide is, the different forms a person can use, and the companies that have them in store. It also examines some frequently asked questions and alternative products.
Spermicide is a type of barrier contraception that prevents sperm from reaching an egg. Most spermicides contain the chemical nonoxynol-9, which damages sperm. Typically, a person inserts spermicide into their vagina, where it forms a barrier that slows and kills sperm and prevents them from entering the uterus. It is available without a prescription and in a variety of forms, such as creams, foams, gels, films, and suppositories.
There is some evidence that spermicides, when used alone, are among the least effective types of birth control. As a result, many experts recommend using other forms of barrier methods, such as condoms or diaphragms, in addition to spermicides. For example, when people use them properly together, the pregnancy rate for spermicides and condoms is less than 1%.
In addition, it is advisable to use spermicides and condoms together, as spermicides alone cannot protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Spermicide comes in different forms and properties. Some include the following.
Please note that the author of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based.
A spermicidal film, or vaginal contraceptive film (VCF), is a thin sheet of film that a person quarters and then halves before being inserted into the vagina. It acts as a barrier that absorbs vaginal secretions and thereby melts into a thick gel. People should insert the film at least 15 minutes before intercourse.
Some places that have spermicidal films in stock are CVS.
This VCF is $ 16.99 and people can add up to six packages to their order. The pharmacy recommends that people ensure that their hands are dry before inserting the foil and that they only use one piece before each sexual intercourse.
According to the CVS Pharmacy website, people should see a doctor if they experience irritation or burning in the genital area.
The website accepts payments using Flexible Savings Accounts (FSA) and Health Savings Accounts (HSA).
Contraceptive foams are available in aerosol cans and an applicator. People have to shake the can first and then fill the applicator with the spermicide. Then they insert it into the vagina and push the plunger to release the foam. Foams are immediately active and should be used less than 1 hour before sexual intercourse.
Walmart has a vaginal contraceptive foam that contains 13 applications. It weighs 0.16 lb and comes with the following dimensions:
- Length: 1.5 inches (inch)
- Width: 2.25 inches
- Height: 5.5 inches
Walmart also accepts HSA and FSA payments.
These are solid forms of concentrated spermicide that melt into a foam when inserted into the vagina. People should use a new pad every time they have sexual intercourse. Those who use spermicidal suppositories should wait 10-15 minutes before sex to allow the product to melt.
One of the online companies that offer vaginal suppositories and birth control pills is Instacart.
Instacart carries Encare’s vaginal contraceptives. The package comes with 12 individually wrapped inserts. According to the label, the inserts do not cause any hormonal side effects. Instacart also has a smartphone app available for Apple and Android devices.
Before using a spermicide, it is advisable to check the expiration date and carefully read all directions for use, time of application and duration of action. In general, people should attempt to insert spermicide into the vagina near the cervix about 10-15 minutes before intercourse.
The method of insertion may vary slightly with different spermicides, but they usually come with an applicator so people can lie down, squat, or put one foot on a chair and insert it. Most spermicides are only effective 1 hour after insertion. A person should also use spermicides again every time they have penetrative sex.
It is also advisable to use spermicides in conjunction with another form of contraception such as a condom.
Some common questions about spermicides can include the following.
What are the benefits of using spermicides?
Some benefits of spermicides are as follows.
- hormone free
- no doctor visits required
- Lubrication can increase sexual pleasure
- reversible method as people can stop using it if they want to become pregnant
- safe for breastfeeding
Most spermicides are also cheaper than other birth control methods and can be found in many stores.
Does spermicide protect against STIs?
Spermicides do not protect against STIs. With this in mind, it is advisable to use spermicides with condoms as this can reduce the risk of transmitting STIs and also the chance of pregnancy.
Are there any side effects?
Spermicides containing nonoxynol-9 can irritate the genital area if a person uses it on sensitive skin several times a day. In some cases, this damage to the genital area can increase the likelihood of developing an STI. If irritation occurs, consider changing brands or speaking to a doctor to discuss other methods of birth control.
Other reversible products that a person can use to reduce the likelihood of pregnancy include:
- Levonorgestrel Intrauterine device (IUD): This is a T-shaped device that a doctor inserts into the uterus, where it releases the hormone
levonorgestrelevery day to prevent pregnancy. There is evidence that fewer than 1 in 100 people will get pregnant with an IUD. People can remove it after 3-12 years.
- Implant: A thin rod that a doctor can insert under the skin on the person’s upper arm. It releases progestin, which can cause cervical mucus to thicken and prevent the egg from leaving the ovary. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that
less than 1 in 100People become pregnant in the first year of using the implant.
- Combined oral contraceptives: These require a prescription and contain estrogen and progestin. Doctors may recommend that people take one pill at the same time each day.
Spermicide is a reversible form of birth control that can reduce the likelihood of pregnancy. It is a chemical that inactivates sperm cells and prevents them from reaching an egg cell. These are available in foam, suppository, and film products.
However, spermicide is not the most effective form of birth control and does not protect against STIs. As a result, many experts recommend using spermicides in combination with other birth control methods such as condoms.
Please note: Medical News Today does not imply or endorse any guarantee of suitability for any particular purpose. Nobody at MNT has rated these apps for medical accuracy. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved them unless otherwise stated.