The sponge is a small circular plastic foam device attached to a loop of thin string that is placed inside the vagina before sex. The sponge works to reduce the risk of pregnancy in two ways: by creating a physical barrier near your cervix (which is the body part that sperm must travel through for a pregnancy to occur) and the sponge is filled with spermicide which kills sperm. The purpose of the string attached to the sponge is to help you get the sponge out of your body, so there is no need to worry if the string happens to break! One downside of this form of birth control is that with regular use it can irritate the skin of the vagina or penis, allowing for more opportunities for STIs to enter your body .
You can get the sponge at a pharmacy without a prescription. While not every pharmacy will carry the sponge on the shelf, you can often ask pharmacies to order the sponge for you. To use the sponge, wash your hands and then wet the sponge with a little bit of water. Squeeze the sponge to activate the spermicide and insert the sponge inside the vagina with the dimple (or indent) of the sponge facing up. After sex, make sure you leave the sponge in for 6 hours to ensure that the spermicide kills all the sperm. After the 6 hour waiting period, you can use your fingers to find the string and remove the sponge.
The sponge is around 76% effective with typical use and costs $16 for a box of three sponges in Ottawa.