Background Color:
Background Pattern:

Are SPERMICIDES the right methods for you?

 Basics about SPERMICIDES -

  • A SPERMICIDE is a substance inserted in the vagina that kills or disables sperm on contact so that it cannot cause pregnancy.
  • Spermicides come in many different forms: foam, jelly, cream, film, and suppositories
  • Most use the chemical nonoxynol-9
  • Even more effective when used with a barrier method of birth control, such as latex condoms
  • Spermicides work only if you use them every time you have sex

Couples might LIKE Spermicides because:

  • Available without a prescription, you can buy them in a drugstore and they do not require an office visit
  • Lubrication may increase pleasure
  • Use can be part of sex play
  • Safe/no major side effects
  • Immediate return to fertility
  • Do not require partner cooperation
  • They cause few health problems

Couples might DISLIKE Spermicides because:

  • Do not protect against STIs/STDs and HIV/AIDS
  • Can be messy
  • Can have a bad taste during oral sex
  • Not as effective as other birth control methods
  • You must put them in within about 15-20 minutes of having sex

How well do they work?

Spermicides used alone are 79-84 %. This means that about 16 to 21 women out of a 100
using spermicides become pregnant. If used in conjunction with a latex condom, they become 97% effective, so only 3 women out of 100 become pregnant.

How does Spermicide compare with the effectiveness of other forms of birth control?

Women out of 100 that got pregnant using the methods below

Abstinence No women
Depo Provera Shots 1 out of 100
Sterilization 1 out of 100
Contraceptive Patch 1 out of 100
IUD 2 out of 100
Vaginal Ring 2 out of 100
The Pill 3 out of 100
Male Condom 12 out of 100
Spermicide 16-21 out of 100
Diaphragm 18 out of 100
NFP/FAM 20 out of 100
Female Condom 21 out of 100
No Method 85 out of 100

How do you use spermicides?

The lubrication they provide can increase pleasure. Insert your spermicide 10-15 minutes before intercourse. Add more spermicide for repeated intercourse. Leave your spermicide in your vagina for 6-8 hours after the last act of intercourse and do not douche for 8 hours. Douching weakens spermicide. Spermicides are available in most drug stores and do not require a prescription.

Foam: Foam comes in a can and has the consistency of shaving cream. To use it, shake the can well. Place the applicator on the top of the can and press down. The plunger will rise as the applicator fills. Insert the applicator about two to three inches into your vagina and press the plunger to deposit the foam over your cervix. As you withdraw the applicator, be sure not to pull back on the plunger. This will suck some foam back into the applicator. It is effective immediately.

Creams and Jellies: Creams are opaque and jellies are clear. They can be inserted into the vagina with an applicator. Cream or jelly is typically used with a diaphragm or cervical cap. They can also be used with condoms and are effective immediately.

Vaginal Contraceptive Film (VCF): VCF comes in thin squares that dissolve over the cervix. To use it, fold the film in half and then place it on the tip of a finger. Insert your finger into your vagina and put the VCF over your cervix. A dry finger and quick insertion will help the VCF stay in place and not to stick to your finger. It may take 10-15 minutes for the VCF to melt and become effective.

Suppositories: Suppositories are capsules that dissolve in the vagina. They are inserted into the Vagina like a tampon and pushed up to the cervix. It takes about 10-20 minutes for a suppository to become effective.

What about the side effects?

  • Frequent use can make you more susceptible to STIs/STDs and HIV/AIDS
  • If irritation of the vagina or penis develops, discontinue use and consult physician
Department of Public Health
Family Planning
3900 Sherman Way - Suite J - Riverside, CA 92503
(951)358-5192 or Email: