The best spermicides: options, effectiveness and more


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Spermicide is a chemical that destroys semen and reduces the chances of pregnancy. It is a contraceptive substance that a person can insert into their vagina. There are different options for spermicides, including creams, gels, and films. People can use them alone or in combination with other barrier contraceptive methods, such as condoms.

This article explores in more detail what spermicide is, the different forms a person can use, and the companies that store them. It also explores some frequently asked questions and alternative products.

Spermicide is a type of barrier contraception that prevents sperm from reaching an egg. Most spermicides contain the chemical nonoxynol-9, which damages semen. Typically, a person inserts a spermicide into their vagina, where it forms a barrier that slows down and kills the sperm, preventing it from entering the uterus. It is available without a prescription and comes in different forms, such as creams, foams, gels, films, and suppositories.

Evidence suggests that when people use it alone, spermicides are among the less efficient types of birth control. Therefore, many experts recommend using other forms of barrier methods, such as condoms or diaphragms, in addition to spermicides. For example, when people use them correctly together, the pregnancy rate for spermicides and condoms is less than 1%.

In addition, individuals are advised to use spermicides and condoms together, as spermicides alone provide no protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Spermicide comes in different forms and characteristics. Some include the below.

Please note that the author of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based.


A spermicidal film, or vaginal contraceptive film (VCF), is a thin sheet of film that an individual folds in four and in half before inserting it into the vagina. It acts as a barrier that absorbs vaginal fluids and as a result, it melts into a thick gel. People must insert the film at least 15 minutes before having sex.

Some places that store spermicidal films include CVS.

This VCF costs $ 16.99 and people can add up to six packages to their order. The pharmacy recommends that individuals make sure their hands are dry before inserting the film and use one piece before each act of intercourse.

According to the CVS Pharmacy website, people should see a healthcare practitioner if they experience irritation or burning in the genital area.

The site accepts payments using Flexible Savings Accounts (FSA) and Health savings accounts (HSA).


Contraceptive foams come in the form of aerosol cans and an applicator. People need shake the box First fill the applicator with the spermicide. They then insert it into the vagina and push the plunger to release the foam. Foams are immediately active and individuals should insert them within an hour of intercourse.

Walmart stocks a vaginal contraceptive foam that contains 13 applications. It weighs 0.16 lbs and comes with the following dimensions:

  • length: 1.5 inches (in)
  • width: 2.25 ”
  • height: 5.5 inches

Walmart also accepts HSA and FSA payments.


These are solid forms of concentrated spermicide that melt into a foam after insertion into the vagina. People should use a new insert every time they have sex. Those using spermicidal suppositories should wait 10-15 minutes before having sex to allow the product to melt.

Online companies that offer vaginal suppositories and contraceptive tablets include Instacart.

Instacart stocks Encare vaginal contraceptive inserts. The package comes with 12 individually wrapped inserts. According to the label, the inserts do not cause any hormonal side effects. Instacart also offers a smartphone app available for Apple and Android devices.

Before using a spermicide, it is advised for people to check the expiration date and carefully read all the instructions about how to use it, when to use it, and how long it works. As a general rule, individuals should attempt to insert a spermicide into the vagina, near the cervix, about 10 to 15 minutes before intercourse.

The insertion method may vary slightly with different forms of spermicide, but they usually come with an applicator, so people can lie down, squat, or put one foot on a chair and insert it. Most spermicides are only effective for 1 hour after insertion. A person must also reinsert a spermicide for each act of penetrating sex.

It is also advisable to use a spermicide with another form of contraceptive barrier, such as a condom.

Some frequently asked questions about spermicides may include the following.

What are the benefits of using spermicides?

Some advantages of spermicides include below.

  • hormone free
  • no doctor’s visit required
  • lubrication can increase sexual pleasure
  • reversible method, as people can stop using it if they want to get pregnant
  • safe for breastfeeding people

Most spermicides are also cheaper than other contraceptive methods and are available in many stores.

Does spermicide protect against STIs?

Spermicides do not provide protection against STIs. With this in mind, it is advisable to use spermicide with condoms, as this can reduce the risk of STI transmission and also reduce the chances of pregnancy.

Are there any side effects?

Spermicides containing nonoxynol-9 may irritate the genital area if a person uses it several times a day on sensitive skin. In some cases, this damage to the genital area can increase the risk of getting an STI. If irritation occurs, consider switching brands or speak with a doctor to discuss other birth control methods.

Other reversible products that a person can use to reduce the risk of pregnancy include:

  • Levonorgestrel intrauterine device (IUD): This is a T-shaped device that a doctor places inside the uterus, where it releases the hormone levonorgestrel every day to avoid pregnancy. Evidence suggests that less than 1 in 100 people get pregnant with an IUD in place. People can take it off after 3 to 12 years.
  • Implant: A thin rod that a healthcare professional can insert under the skin of a person’s upper arm. He frees progestogen, allowing cervical mucus to thicken, preventing the egg from leaving the ovary. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say less than 1 in 100 people get pregnant within the first year of using the implant.
  • Combined oral contraceptives: These are available by prescription and contain estrogen and progestins. Doctors may recommend that people take a pill at the same time each day.

Spermicide is a reversible form of birth control that can reduce the chances of pregnancy. It is a chemical that inactivates sperm, preventing it from reaching an egg. These are available as a mousse, suppository, and film.

However, spermicide is not the most effective form of contraception and does not offer protection against STIs. Therefore, many experts recommend using a spermicide in combination with other birth control methods, such as condoms.

Please note: Medical News Today does not imply any guarantee of fitness for a particular purpose or endorse any of these applications. No one at MNT has evaluated the medical accuracy of these applications. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved them unless otherwise noted.

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