Contraceptive Sponge

What is it?

The vaginal contraceptive sponge is a small circular sponge made of polyurethane foam, which contains spermicide. Spermicide contains nonoxynol-9, a chemical that kills sperm. The sponge is inserted into your vagina prior to having vaginal sex and covers the cervix.

How do you use it?

The vaginal contraceptive sponge contains spermicide, which kills sperm. The sponge comes dry and needs to be wet with water in order to activate the spermicide inside of it. To do this, take the sponge out of the package and run clean water on it. Squeeze the sponge, and make sure the sponge is totally wet with lots of suds. Insert the sponge before having vaginal sex and leave it in for at least 6 hours after the last ejaculation to ensure that all the sperm is killed. Do not leave it in longer than the recommended amount of time because it can lead to toxic shock syndrome. Do not bathe, swim or douche for 6 hours after the last ejaculation.

Where can you get it?

The sponge is available at most pharmacies without a prescription.

How much does it cost?

Approximately $16 for a box of three sponges.

How effective is it?<

The sponge is 76% to 88% effective with typical use.

Does it reduce the risk of STIs?

No. The contraceptive sponge does not reduce the risk sexually transmitted infection. Frequent use of the sponge or other forms of spermicide can irritate the skin of the vagina, anus, or penis making easier for HIV and other STIs to be transmitted.

Reasons someone might choose this method of birth control

  • Does not interrupt sex
  • You don’t need a prescription

Reasons someone might not choose this method of birth control

  • You or your partner could have an allergic reaction to the spermicide
  • The spermicide could cause skin irritation in the vagina, on the vulva or on the penis
  • There is a risk of toxic shock syndrome if you leave the sponge in too long

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