What is it? How does it work?

Spermicide has a chemical that helps stop sperm from traveling to fertilize an egg. It comes in the form of a cream, gel, foam, or suppository that is put into the vagina before sex to both slow down sperm and block the entrance of the cervix.  Spermicide can be used with other methods (diaphragm, sponge, cervical cap) to prevent pregnancy. Oftentimes, condoms come lubricated with spermicide.

How effective is it?

Used alone, it is typically about 72% effective. When used perfectly, it is about 82% effective. Spermicide is much more effective when used with another birth control method.

What are the side effects?

Some people experience irritation when using spermicide, which may indicate an allergy to the active ingredient in spermicide (Nonoxynol-9). If you have irritation when using spermicide, it is best to stop using this method.

Does it protect me against sexually transmitted infections?

No, spermicide alone will not protect against sexually transmitted infections. In fact, spermicide may make the skin more sensitive and more susceptible to HIV. To be safe, you should get tested to make sure neither you nor your partner have HIV. Also, a condom is always a good idea!

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