Spermicide

Image of sperm

What is spermicide?

Spermicide is a chemical product that comes in the form of a jelly, foam, or cream and is a barrier method of birth control.

How does it work?

Spermicidal chemicals are designed to kill the sperm before they reach the uterus.

How effective is spermicide?

Spermicidal chemicals alone are not considered an effective form of birth control. Typical use of spermicide, which is considered the way most people use it, possesses a failure rate of 28%. Spermicides should be used with another barrier method of birth control such as a diaphragmcervical cap, or condom. You should take a pregnancy test if you are experiencing any pregnancy symptoms.

What are the side effects or health risks of spermicides?

In some individuals, allergic reaction to spermicides may lead to itching, burning, or redness.

Are spermicides reversible?

Yes. They do not have any effects on either the male or female reproductive cycle. It is possible to get pregnant immediately if it is no longer used.

How much does spermicide cost?

Foams, jellies, or creams range in cost from approximately $7 to $18 and average approximately 25¢ per use.

What about spermicides and sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s)?

Spermicidal chemicals do not prevent contact of the vagina from the partner’s skin or bodily fluids. Spermicide should NOT be considered as a means of protection from sexually transmitted diseases.

What are the pros & cons of spermicides?

  • The Pros:
    • When combined with other barrier methods (condom, diaphragm, or cervical cap), the combined failure rate is between 3% – 10%.
    • Doctor visits are not required to obtain spermicide.
    • Spermicide is easily accessible at grocery stores, drug stores, and supercenters.
    • It is inexpensive and easy to carry.
  • The Cons:
    • Spermicide must be inserted less than 30 minutes prior to intercourse and ideally less than 20 minutes.
    • It must be inserted for each act of sexual intercourse.
    • It requires another barrier method to avoid high failure rates.
    • Spermicide does NOT protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
    Last Updated: 08/2015

    Association of Reproductive Health Professionals. (n.d.). Choosing a method of birth control: Spermicides. Retrieved from https://www.arhp.org/Publications-and-Resources/Quick-Reference-Guide-for-Clinicians/choosing/Spermicides