Spermicide: What Its Users Must Know, But Often Don’t

Spermicide: What Its Users Must Know, But Often Don't

As more people become aware of the importance of protected sex, the use of contraceptives and spermicide has also increased. Protected sex is the best method to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). While men are familiar with condoms, women use spermicides that prevent pregnancy. But, spermicides don’t protect you from all STDs. On the contrary, they may make you more vulnerable to these deadly diseases.

What Is A Spermicide?

Spermicide stops the sperms from reaching the eggs and prevents pregnancy


Spermicide is a type of birth control that contains chemicals, which stop sperm from reaching an egg. It is typically inserted into the vagina before sex to prevent pregnancy. Spermicide is available in many different forms such as creams, gels, film, foams, and suppositories (soft inserts that melt into a cream inside your vagina). Though numerous spermicide brands and types are available, they all work in a similar way by blocking the cervix and preventing sperm from coming in contact with the eggs.1

How Effective Is Spermicide In Preventing Pregnancy?

Spermicide is quite effective in preventing pregnancy


Spermicide is most effective when used correctly each time you have vaginal sex. However, it is not a sure shot technique to prevent pregnancy. Statistics show that 18 percent of the women who use spermicide will become pregnant each year, even if spermicides are always used correctly. Though using spermicide alone is not the most effective way to prevent pregnancy, it’s better than not using birth control at all.2

Can You Make Spermicide More Effective?

Using a condom along with spermicide is more effective


Yes, the effectiveness of spermicide can be improved by taking simple precautions. Women must ensure that they are using spermicide correctly each time they have vaginal sex. The best way to prevent pregnancy is to use spermicide along with another method, like condoms or withdrawal before ejaculation.

Men can withdraw (pulling out) before ejaculating (cumming), which prevents the sperm from entering the vagina and causing pregnancy. Combined usage of condoms and spermicide offer the best protection against pregnancy, and condoms also prevent STDs.


Does Spermicide Protect Against STDs?

Spermicide alone is not sufficient to prevent STDs

Unfortunately, no. Spermicide offers limited protection only against some STDs. Using spermicide many times a day may actually increase your risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Due to the presence of the chemical called Nonoxynol-9 (N-9) in spermicide, the vagina becomes irritated making it easier for STD causing germs to enter the body.


Using condoms along with spermicide not only prevents pregnancy but also protects you from STDs. One risk that everybody who uses spermicide should be aware of is that if your partner has any STD, then it should be used with caution. Spermicide works best for couples who are monogamous. Nonoxynol-9 is actually very effective in destroying the viruses and bacteria that cause STDs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea.

But more research is required to assess its effectiveness on HIV.3 The only problem is that it also irritates the cells that line the vagina and the rectum, making them more susceptible to attack by those same viruses and bacteria.


What Is Nonoxynol-9?

Spermicide contains N-9 chemical that can disrupt vaginal cell membranes

Nonoxynol-9, an ingredient in spermicide, is essentially a detergent, which means that it disrupts the layers of the cell membranes. When used frequently, it can actually erode the very cells that help protect against these diseases. Medical professionals recommend the use of condoms for regular users or women at high risk for HIV (sex workers or those with HIV-infected partners), as it is a much better choice.


What Are The Side-Effects Of Spermicides?

Spermicide can cause irritation to the vagina or the penis

Spermicide can be quite effective only when used correctly each time you have sex. Moreover, spermicide can also have side-effects. Some people are also allergic to spermicide. If your vagina or your partner’s penis feels sore or irritated after sex, it’s an indication that one of you could be sensitive to the spermicide.

Even if changing brands doesn’t work, then spermicide may not be a good birth control method for you. Often, spermicide can ooze out of your vagina and be quite messy. Even the taste of spermicide can be gross and offensive.4

Important: Irrespective of the kind of birth control you use, combining male or female condoms every time you have sex is the best way to stave off STDs. Condoms offer a second level of protection from pregnancy. Ensure that you read the directions printed on the spermicide pack and use it whenever you have sex.