Contraceptive Sponge

What is a contraceptive sponge?

A soft saucer-shaped device made from polyurethane foam. It is considered a barrier method of contraception.

How does it work?

It is designed to fit over the cervix and works in three ways to prevent pregnancy:

  • It blocks the cervix, preventing semen from entering the uterus.
  • The sponge contains spermicide which kills sperm.
  • The sponge absorbs the semen.

How effective is a contraceptive sponge?

When is used correctly and consistently, it has about a 9% failure rate or almost 1 in 10. Typical use of the contraceptive sponge refers to the way that most people use it. The failure rate during typical use is approximately 16%. You should take a pregnancy test if you are experiencing any pregnancy symptoms.

What are the side effects or health risks of a contraceptive sponge?

The contraceptive sponge has been associated with some women experiencing toxic shock syndrome (TSS) – a rare but serious life-threatening bacterial infection.

The sponge should not be left inside the vagina for more than 30 hours. The sponge should not be used during menstruation or if you have a history of TSS.

Is a contraceptive sponge reversible?

Yes. It does not have any effects on either the male’s or female’s reproductive function. Pregnancy is possible when you stop using it.

What about a contraceptive sponge and sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s)?

It does NOT provide protection against the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.

What are the pros & cons of the contraceptive sponge?

  • The Pros of the Contraceptive Sponge include:

    • Easy to use and effective immediately
    • Inexpensive
    • Does not require a medical exam or prescription
    • Reversible
  • The Cons of the Contraceptive Sponge include:

    • Does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases
    • Side effects are rare

NOTE: The contraceptive sponge was removed from the market in 1994 by the FDA for health reasons, but has been recently re-approved by the FDA, so it may not be available in all areas. Be sure to check with your pharmacy or health care provider on the availability of the contraceptive sponge.

Last Updated: 08/2003