What is Spermicide?

A spermicide is a product that kills sperm so
they cannot fertilize an egg. It comes in a
variety of forms such as foam, jelly, film,
suppository or tablet.

How to Use Spermicides:


It comes out of the can much like styling mousse or shaving cream. A plastic applicator fits over the nozzle, for filling. The applicator is then used to deposit the foam inside the vagina, in front of the cervix. It can be used alone or with a condom or diaphragm. Contraception protection is immediate and is effective for at least on hour.

Creams and Jellies

Comes in a tube, much like toothpaste. It can be squirted directly onto a diaphragm or cervical cap, or used with an applicator and deposited in front of the cervix. The are immediately effective in prevention of pregnancy. If used along they can last up to one hour. When used with a diaphragm or cap can remain effective for 6-8 hours.


Spermicidal suppositories are intended for use along or with a condom. They are small, waxxy, lozenge or bullet shaped. They should be inserted into the vagina, in front of the cervix at least 15 minutes before intercourse. They dissolve and block sperm from entering the uterus for up to an hour.


Vaginal Contraceptive Film can be used along or with a condom or diaphragm. It is a small square of gelatin that feels a little like wax paper. This is folded over the finger and inserted into the vagina, in front of the cervix, about 15 minutes before intercourse. It dissolves and does not need to be removed from the body later. It remains effective for up to an hour.

How Effective is Spermicide?

Perfect use failure rate in first year: 6%
Typical use failure rate in first year: 26%

Consistent use is the most important factor in minimizing failure with spermicides. In addition to consistent use, correct placement and correct timing of insertion play an important role in the effectiveness of spermicides.

Advantages of Spermicide

  • Spermicide products can be purchased without prescription in pharmacies and supermarkets and do not require the user to seek medical consultation
  • They can be used alone, with a vaginal barrier method, or as an adjunct to any of the other contraceptive methods for added protection against pregnancy
  • A male partner need not be involved in the decision to use or in the use of spermicide
  • Spermicides can be kept available for immediate protection, for those who have intercourse infrequently or after long intervals
  • Spermicides can be used to provide lubrication during intercourse, including intercourse with a condom.

Disadvantages of Spermicide

Recent research indicates that the use of spermicides may increase the transmission rate of STIs. Women who are at risk for STIs are encouraged not to use spermicides as they may cause irritation and small tears where bacteria and viruses can be transmitted. Some people will experience burning, stinging or itching while using these products. It is always a good idea to try a few different brands, or forms, as well as trying both octoxynol and nonoxynol-9. People with sensitive skin, or a history of reactions, may want to test the spermicide on the inside of the elbow. People who use spermicides frequently may be more likely to have adverse reactions.