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Spermicides

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Spermicides:
Answers to Your Questions

What are spermicides?
Are they effective?
How do they work?
How do I use spermicides?
How to insert foam
How to insert tablets or suppositories
Side effects
Other instructions
What are the advantages and disadvantages of spermicides?
Are spermicides the right method for me?

The information provided here is meant to give you general information about spermicides and does not replace the need to talk to a health care provider if you would like to use spermicides as a contraceptive method.


What are spermicides?

A woman uses spermicides to kill the man's sperm before it can make her pregnant. Spermicides come as foams, jellies, creams, foaming tablets, or vaginal suppositories.

Are they effective?

Spermicides are effective when they are used correctly every time you have sexual intercourse.

NOTE: Spermicides offer more protection against pregnancy and against STIs when they are used with condoms. Spermicides may offer protection against some sexually transmitted infections, but they have not been proven to be protective against HIV infection. Aside from abstinence, latex condoms offer the best protection against these infections.

How do they work?

You put the spermicide high in your vagina before the man inserts his penis. You must follow the instructions on the package and be sure to use the spermicide every time you have sexual intercourse.


How do I use spermicides?

As with any other method, you should talk to your doctor or a family planning counselor at a local clinic or hospital before using spermicides as a contraceptive method. The following instructions are provided to help you decide whether spermicides may be right for you.

  • You must use spermicides every time you have sexual intercourse.
  • You should insert the foam, jelly, or cream deep into your vagina just before sexual intercourse.
  • You should insert tablets or suppositories 10 minutes before sexual intercourse.
  • If more than one hour passes before you have sexual intercourse, use a second dose of spermicides.
  • Be sure to insert a new tablet, suppository, or application of foam, jelly, or cream with each additional act of intercourse.

How to insert the foam

  • Wash your hands with soap.
  • Shake the can up and down hard so that the contents are well mixed.
  • Fill the applicator by pressing down against the tip of the foam bottle.
  • Place the applicator high up into the vagina. Then push in the plunger so that the foam goes up into the vagina.

Care and storage of foam

  • Wash the foam applicator after use, using soap.
  • Keep a spare container of foam at home. You usually cannot tell when the foam is almost gone.

How to insert tablets or suppositories:

  • Wash your hands with soap.
  • Use your middle and index fingers to push the tablet or suppository deep into your vagina.

Side effects

Return to the health facility if you have irritation in your vagina that bothers you. Be sure to tell your health care provider that you are using spermicides.

Other instructions

Return to the health facility if:

  • You are not happy with the method.
  • You think you are pregnant.
  • You want information about, or want to start using, another family planning method.
  • You think there is any chance you may have been exposed to HIV infection or any other sexually transmitted infection.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of spermicides?

Advantages:

  • Spermicides may offer protection against some sexually transmitted infections.
  • Spermicides may be discontinued by the woman on her own.
  • Spermicides are available without prescription or medical examination.

Disadvantages:

  • Spermicides have not been proven to be protective against HIV infection.
  • Spermicides may cause irritation in the vagina in some women or on the penis for some men.
  • Inserting the spermicide or waiting for the spermicidal tablet to work may interrupt lovemaking.
  • Supplies may be expensive and difficult to find.

Are spermicides the right method for me?

There are a number of factors that you should consider before deciding whether spermicides are right for you. These questions can help you determine whether spermicides might be an effective contraceptive method for you.


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