What is spermicide?

Vaginal spermicides are inserted into the vagina before having vaginal intercourse to help prevent pregnancy. They contain nonoxyl-9, a chemical that kills sperm. Spermicide is currently available in Canada as a spermicidal film, which is a thin 2×2 inch sheet of spermicide which melts when placed inside the vagina, and a spermicidal foam.

How does spermicide work?

Foam: Fill the entire applicator with spermicide. Insert the applicator into the vagina as close to the cervix as possible and push applicator to release the spermicide. Film: Fold the film in half twice. When you fold it for the second time, fold it over your finger and insert it into your vagina as far back as you can place it. The film is effective after 15 minutes and lasts up to one hour. A new film must be inserted before each act of vaginal sex.

Where can you get spermicides?

Spermicides are available at some pharmacies without a prescription.

How much does it cost?

The spermicidal film cost approximately $12 for a box of 9 films. Spermicidal foam costs approximately $14 per package.

How effective is it?

Spermicide is approximately 72% effective with typical use.

Does it reduce the risk of STIs?

No. Spermicides do not reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections. Frequent use 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

  • Provides extra lubrication
  • Does not interrupt sex
  • No prescription needed

Reasons someone might not choose this method of birth control

  • Can be messy
  • Has an unpleasant taste
  • Frequent use of spermicide can cause skin irritation which can make it easier for HIV and other STIs to be transmitted.

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