WHAT IS IT?
Spermicides are compounds used for contraceptive purposes. Spermicides come in the form of creams, gels, film, or suppositories (an insertable solid dosage in either the anus or vagina), and often contain chemicals that are designed to kill sperm or otherwise reduce their motility in the vagina. By killing or blocking the entrance of sperm into the uterus, spermicides act to reduce the risk of unintended pregnancy.
It is very important that the diaphragm is always used with a spermicidal jelly or cream. The spermicide should kill any sperm that may slip over the rim. Unfortunately, spermicidal jelly is no longer being made in Canada, so it is difficult to find it in stores. We highly recommend that you do not use spermicidal foam, as the Nonoxynol-9 concentration is very high and may cause irritation. Spermicide suppositories and films containing chemical nonoxynol-9 are no longer available in Nova Scotia.
Natural alternatives such as ContraGel, which do not contain nonoxynol-9, are still available. Vaginal contraceptive foams containing nonoxynol-9 are still available at your local pharmacies. We highly recommend that you do not use spermicidal foam, as the Nonoxynol-9 concentration is very high and may cause irritation.
HOW DOES IT WORK AND WHEN SHOULD I USE IT?
Inserting spermicide in front of the cervix, in the vagina, destroys sperm on contact and/or reducing their motility.
Spermicides should be used along with another method of contraception, such as a condom, diaphragm or sponge, because alone they are not highly effective.
HOW EFFECTIVE IS IT?
Spermicides are only about 78% effective in preventing pregnancy if used as the only form of contraception.
In other words, when used as the only contraceptive method, the pregnancy rates per 100 people using spermicide are:
28% for typical use.
18% for perfect use.
The pregnancy rate with spermicide use is lower than if no contraceptive method is used. Effectiveness is reduced if the user does not wait long enough for the spermicide to disperse before having sex, or if sex does not occur for more than 1 hour after placement, or if a repeat dose is not applied before each additional act of sexual intercourse.
HOW DO I USE IT PROPERLY?
In general, the persons with a vagina insert the spermicide using a small applicator and then needs to wait at least 10 minutes before sexual intercourse to allow the product to disperse. Spermicide must be re-inserted no more than 30-60 minutes before every act of intercourse. With repeated applications, these products can leak out of the vagina.
When used with a diaphragm or cervical cap (FemCap), the spermicidal cream or jelly should be squeezed into the concave part of the diaphragm/FemCap before insertion. The spermicide should be labeled as compatible with that device.
There are slight differences in the application of spermicidal creams, films, foams, gels, and suppositories, which are usually described in detail in the package insert.
ADVANTAGES VS DISADVANTAGES OF USING SPERMICIDE:
- It can be used during breastfeeding.
- Effectiveness increases when used with another barrier method of contraception.
- You can carry it with you easily.
- Available in different forms such as gel, foam and film.
- Easy to access and available at pharmacies – no prescription or doctor’s consult is needed.
- May be inconvenient to insert/apply 10 minutes before sex.
- Spermicide may be irritating to genitals and can be messy.
- Effective for a limited time – you will need to re-apply before having sex again.
- Some people can have an allergic reaction to spermicide.
- Does not protect against STIs
- Nonoxynol-9 containing products may increase risk of HIV transmission. Nonoxynol-9 is no longer available in Nova Scotia.