Spermicides

What are spermicides?

Spermicides are composed of a chemical agent and are inserted into the vagina to prevent pregnancy. Nonoxynol-9 is the most common spermicide in Canada. Spermicides are available in different forms such as film, jelly, suppository, cream, tablet, and foam. Spermicides are 71 to 82 per cent effective when used alone, but should be used in combination with other methods, such as the condom.

How does spermicides work?

Spermicides are composed of a chemical agent that destroys sperm on contact

Who can use spermicides?

All women who are sexually active and who do not have an allergy to spermicides can use this contraceptive method.

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How do I use spermicides?

  • Check the expiry date
  • Read and follow the package instructions carefully
  • Insert spermicide high in the vagina
  • Apply the right amount of spermicide
  • Wait the recommended time between insertion and having sex
  • Insert more spermicide with every sexual contact
  • Do not douche for at least 6 hours after sexual contact
    Product

    Effective how soon after insertion

    Effective for how long

    Comments

    Vaginal contraceptive film (VCF)

    15 minutes

    1 hour

    Apply more spermicide before having sex again

    Advantage 24® – bioadhesive jelly

    Immediately

    24 hours

    • Apply more spermicide before having sex again
    • Use an applicator

    Foam

    Immediately

    1 hour

    • Apply more spermicide before having sex again
    • Use an applicator

    Gel or cream

    Immediately

    1 hour (if used with diaphragm or cap, 6-8 hours)

    • Apply more spermicide before having sex again
    • Good to use with diaphragm and cap
    • Use an applicator

    Suppository

    10-15 minutes

    1 hour

    • Apply more spermicide before having sex again

    Contraceptive Sponge (Protectaid® or Today Sponge®)

    15 minutes

    12 hours

    • Also acts as a barrier method
    • Less effective in women who have given birth
    • No need to change sponge if sex repeated within the 12-hour period

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What are the advantages, possible side effects/problems of spermicides?

Advantages

  • The foams, creams, and jellies may be used as lubricants with condoms

Possible side effects or problems

  • Irritation of the vagina, the penis due to an allergic reaction to spermicides, which may increase the risk of HIV transmission
  • Increase risk of urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Timing of application
  • Lack of spontaneity
  • Can be messy
  • Unpleasant odour or taste

Remember

  • Spermicides should only be used in monogamous relationship (when you only have one regular sexual partner), as it does not protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Spermicides may cause vaginal irritation, which increases the risk of HIV transmission
  • Call the AIDS & Sexual Health Info Line at 613-563-2437 if you have any questions or need help
  • For more information on spermicides, please consult this Web site: www.sexualityandu.ca

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