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Spermicide is a form of nonhormonal birth control. It’s available over the counter (OTC) at drugstores and pharmacies.

It is a chemical that is inserted into the vagina before sex.

How does spermicide work?

The root word “cide” means “kill” in Latin, according to Planned Parenthood. It’s a little misleading, as spermicide does not necessarily kill sperm.

Instead, depending on the product, it either blocks the cervix so sperm is unable to reach an egg, or makes it more difficult for sperm to move inside the body. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, this effectively kills it.

It is fairly easy to use spermicide. It feels like putting a suck in when you insert many products.

You can apply the spermicide with your fingers.

Timing is the most important part of using a spermicide product. It is best to read the directions before using the window.

Some products take 15 minutes to become fully effective, and others only last an hour.

There are different forms of spermicide. There are condoms coated with the chemical.

But it’s one of the less effective birth control methods when used by itself. A 2011 study found that with typical use, around 28 out of 100 people who use it as their sole contraceptive method becoming pregnant each year.

To further lower the chance of becoming pregnant, you can use other barrier contraceptives with spermicide products, like:

  • condoms
  • The caps are called cervical.
  • The The diaphragms are made of wood. are made of wood.

Spermicide also doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), so using condoms alongside can help lower the risk.

There are different types of spermicide available.

Spermicidal condoms

Condoms coated with spermicide can make pregnancy prevention more effective and help protect against STIs in one go.

With perfect use — correctly, on time, without error, and with no breaks or tears — spermicide condoms are around 99 percent effective in preventing pregnancy.

This can fall to 70 percent with normal use. The average person uses contraception. This could include forgetting to use a condom until after the sex has begun.

Contraceptive films

Thin sheets are inserted into the vagina and form a thick gel after mixing with vaginal fluids.

Vaginal films typically need to be placed at least 15 minutes before penetrative vaginal sex to allow time for them to dissolve.

How long they last varies by brand.

One popular brand, VCF, claims to be up to 94 percent effective when used correctly.

Spermicidal jellies

Often used with The The diaphragms are made of wood. are made of wood. or The caps are called cervical., jelly acts as a lubricant.

If sperm can get past the barrier of a diaphragm or a cervical cap, it gives an extra layer of protection.

The spermicidal jelly needs to be close to the uterus. An applicator is usually included.

It works immediately and lasts for around an hour or so.

Contraceptive gel

This gel is similar to the jelly in that it is inserted in a similar way.

You place the gel near the cervix and push it out with a plunger.

Contraceptive gel is also effective straight away, but typically only lasts up to 1 hour.

Effectiveness rates can vary by brand, but VCF claims their gel is up to 94 percent effective when you use it correctly.

Spermicide suppositories

These suppositories are placed into the vagina and dissolved into foam.

It takes 10 to 15 minutes to be effective. They only last for one hour after being inserted.

Contraceptive sponge

The contraceptive sponges are made from foam.

They are effective immediately and can provide protection for up to 24 hours.

You should wait at least 6 hours after intercourse before removing the sponge.

Each sponge can only be used once. Planned Parenthood says they’re about 91 to 80 percent effective with perfect use, and 88 to 76 percent effective with typical use.

There are many factors to consider when choosing a spermicide product. We chose the following based on the information we had.

  • Scientific research.
  • Recommendations from clinicians.
  • Customer experience and reviews are important.
  • It is easy to use.
  • comfort
  • Cost

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $10 per pack
  • $$ = $10–$15 per pack
  • $$$ = over $15 per pack

Best widely-accessible spermicide

Trojan Ultra Thin Spermicidal Lubricant Condoms

  • Price: $
  • Pack size: 12 condoms
  • Where to get it: OTC or online at Amazon, CVS, Target, Walgreens, Walmart, and other local pharmacies

These condoms are made from premium quality latex and non-oxynol-9 spermicide, which helps lower the risk of pregnancy and STDs.

They are not suitable for repeated vaginal sex in one day or for anal sex.

Best bulk-buy spermicide

Trojan ENZ Armor Spermicidal Lubricant Condoms

  • Price: $$$
  • Pack size: 36 condoms
  • Where to get it: OTC or online at Amazon, CVS, Target, Walgreens, Walmart, and other local pharmacies

The same coating of non-oxynol-9 spermicide is used in the condoms to prevent pregnancies and to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections.

Premium quality latex and a smooth lubricant are included.

If you are having anal sex or vaginal sex more than once per day, you should not use these.

Best spermicide for an enhanced experience

Trojan Ultra Ribbed Spermicidal Lubricant Condoms

  • Price: $
  • Pack size: 12 condoms
  • Where to get it: OTC or online at Amazon and Walmart

The condoms have the same spermicidal coating, but they have deeper ribs for increased stimulation.

“They aren’t suitable for anal sex or vaginal sex more than once a day.”

Best portable spermicide product

VCF Vaginal Contraceptive Film

  • Price: $
  • Pack size: 9 films
  • Where to get it: OTC or online at CVS, Rite Aid, Target, Walgreens, Walmart, and others

The films are effective for up to 3 hours after being placed.

“Each film is sealed in a pouch that is easy to transport. It shouldn’t be noticed by either person once it’s fully dissolved.”

If you have insurance, contraceptive films may be free. However, you may need a prescription to have the Costcovered.

Best spermicide for use with condoms

ForPlay PrePair Spermicidal Water-Based Personal Lubricant

  • Price: $
  • Pack size: 15 milliliters
  • Where to get it: online at Walmart

This Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved spermicidal lubricant is not a contraceptive, but is instead recommended for use with condoms or The The diaphragms are made of wood. are made of wood..

It is water-based and can be washed off quickly, as it contains nonoxynol-9.

Best spermicide for easy application

VCF Vaginal Contraceptive Gel

  • Price: $$
  • Pack size: 10 applicators
  • Where to get it: OTC or online at CVS, Target, Walgreens, Walmart, and others

The contraceptive gel is prefilled with the applicator.

The gel works immediately and is effective for around an hour after application.

The Costmay be covered by insurance. But, if you’re using insurance, a prescription may be required.

Best spermicide on a budget

Encare Vaginal Contraceptive Inserts

  • Price: $
  • Pack size: 12 inserts
  • Where to get it: online at Walmart

The nonoxynol-9 spermicide is dissolved when inserted.

It should be inserted 10 minutes before sex and can protect you for up to an hour.

Best spermicide for longer-term protection

Today Sponge

  • Price: $$
  • Pack size: 3 sponges
  • Where to get it: OTC at pharmacies and supermarkets as well as online at Amazon and Walmart

The contraceptive sponges have 1,000 milligrams of nonoxynol-9. They provide protection when inserted.

Contraceptive sponges may be covered by insurance with a prescription. They can also be found for a lower Costor for free at family planning clinics and Planned Parenthood centers.

Most people are safe with spermicide. It may be a convenient option for those who know in advance when they will have P-in-V sex, and want additional protection against pregnancy on top of barrier methods like condoms.

But there’s still a risk of side effects,particularly skin irritation.

The risk of irritation is higher if you use spermicide multiple times per day. And irritation in genital areas can make it easier for STIs, including HIV, to enter the body.

There are signs of irritation or an allergic reaction.

  • A burning sensation when urinating.
  • It is a feeling of itching or sore.
  • redness
  • Unusual discharge.

If you notice any of the signs, it is best to stop using them.

If you can, talk to a health professional. They may suggest trying a different brand of contraception.

“If spermicide doesn’t seem like the right contraceptive method for you, there are other options.”

Both hormonal and nonhormonal forms are included.

More permanent forms include vasectomy (male sterilization) and tubal ligation (female sterilization).

A vaginal gel is similar to spermicide but does not contain the same potentially irritating ingredient.

Phexxi is only available on prescription and works by lowering vaginal pH to make it hard for sperm to move. Planned Parenthood says it’s around 93 percent effective with perfect use, and 86 percent effective with typical use.

It works immediately when used before intercourse. After use, the benefits will last for an hour.

What are the benefits of spermicide?

“Spermicide is not the most effective contraceptive and isn’t right for everyone, but it has a number of benefits.”

It has less side effects than other forms of birth control.

“It doesn’t need a doctor’s visit because it’s also available OTC.”

Finally, the method is reversible and often less costly than other forms of contraception.

How effective is spermicide?

Spermicide is around 82 percent effective when used perfectly, according to Planned Parenthood.

About 28 out of 100 people will become pregnant each year when using spermicide as their only contraceptive method, according to typical use.

How long does spermicide work for?

It depends on the product.

Some products need to be applied at least 15 minutes before P-in-V sex starts.

How long they work is different. Many are only effective for a short time. Some can last for a long time.

Before using the product, make sure you read the label.

Does spermicide protect against STIs?

No, spermicide does not offer protection against STDs. There will be additional protection needed.

The risk of transmitting sexually transmitted infections can be increased by using spermicide.

Are there any spermicide side effects?

There are allergic reactions and skin irritation that can be caused by spermicide use.

People who use spermicide multiple times a day have more side effects.

A contraceptive that blocks sperm is called spermicide. It is one of the least effective types of birth control.

It also offers no protection against STIs and may cause irritation in some people. However, you can buy spermicide OTC, making it accessible and Costeffective for many.

If you have questions about contraceptives, you should consult with a healthcare professional.

Lauren Sharkey is a U.K.-based journalist and author specializing in women’s issues. When she isn’t trying to discover a way to banish migraines, she can be found uncovering the answers to your lurking health questions. She has also written a book profiling young female activists across the globe and is currently building a community of such resisters. Catch her on Twitter.