Contraception Barrier Methods Spermicide

Spermicide is a barrier method of pregnancy prevention that uses chemicals to prevent sperm from reaching the uterus. It is generally considered a safe, convenient, easy-to-use method of contraception. It is widely available for purchase and easy to use, but it is most effective when used as a backup method of contraception.

Spermicide Effectiveness

Spermicide can be used alone or with other contraceptive devices to improve their efficacy. Both the diaphragm and cervical cap are generally always used in conjunction with spermicide.

It’s very important to understand that spermicide is not considered an effective form of contraception when used without a backup contraceptive. When used on its own, spermicide contraceptive is only effective at preventing pregnancy about 75 percent of the time.

Proper Use of Spermicide

You can find spermicide in many forms, including:

  • Creams
  • Films
  • Foams
  • Gels
  • Suppositories.

For spermicide to work properly, it is inserted deep into the vagina, via fingers or an applicator. It needs to be inserted ten minutes before sexual intercourse to work properly. Correctly inserting spermicide, no matter what form, significantly improves its efficacy.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Using Spermicide

Many women prefer spermicides because they are convenient to use and carry, can be inserted into the vagina as part of foreplay, are easy to acquire, and don’t require a prescription.

On the other hand, while spermicide doesn’t come with any major risks, some risks remain. If applied incorrectly, spermicide effectiveness decreases. Some couples complain of genital discomfort when using spermicide, which can usually be corrected by trying a different brand or form of spermicide contraceptive.

Spermicide use may cause some other minor inconveniences, including taking time to be effective after insertion. Many spermicides require at least 10 minutes to “kick in” before intercourse, while others take longer. Spermicide also requires reinsertion after each sexual encounter.

Spermicide Condoms

Using a latex condom along with spermicide significantly decreases the risk of accidental pregnancy. While spermicide can be used in addition to condoms or other forms of contraception, many popular brands of condom offer pre-lubricated spermicide condoms for additional protection.

Is Spermicide Right for Me?

Using a spermicide contraceptive significantly lessens the risk of pregnancy, and when coupled with other contraceptive methods, spermicide provides even more protection.

The decision to use spermicide as a birth method is one that shouldn’t be made lightly, as it does take time to work. Spermicide may be beneficial for couples looking for extra protection with other barrier methods of birth control, including:

  • Cervical caps
  • Contraceptive sponges
  • Diaphragms
  • Female condoms
  • Male condoms

Some women choose to use a cervical cap in conjunction with spermicide as a barrier method of contraception. This small, rubber cup-like device is filled with spermicide and then inserted to cover the cervix prior to intercourse.

Spermicide - Cervical Cap - Birth Control

Spermicide can often be found in the same drugstore aisle as feminine hygiene and family planning products. Spermicide contraceptive is relatively inexpensive, and varies in price depending on type and brand. You can find spermicide and spermicide condoms at:

  • Drugstores
  • Family planning clinics
  • Some supermarkets.

Remember that spermicide on its own does not prevent STDs, and in some cases, may increase the risk of HIV transmission.


Kid’s Health Staff. (n.d.) Contraception: Spermicide. Retrieved February 7, 2010, from the Kid’s Health Web site:

Planned Parenthood Staff. (n.d.). Spermicide. Retrieved February 7, 2010, from the Planned Parenthood Web site: