Spermicide (Vaginal)

Spermicide is a vaginally administrated contraceptive medication used to kill sperm and prevent pregnancy.

Overview

Spermicide comes in a number of forms and should be administered vaginally before sex for the best effect. The drug does not prevent STDs, HIV, or AIDS, but it can prevent pregnancy if used correctly. It has minimal side effects, but some users may find themselves uncomfortable with the texture or messy nature of the medication. Other users may be allergic to the active or inactive ingredients in the drug, so discretion is advised.

Only use spermicide as directed, and make sure to apply it before every sexual encounter. Neglecting to do so may result in failure and accidental pregnancy. Using this drug as a catch-all protective aid is not recommended, as only condoms can reliably prevent the transmission of HIV and other STDs. Do not use spermicide if you are having sex with untested strangers, and opt for condoms instead.

Spermicide should be applied vaginally, whether it is with your fingers or an applicator. Wash your hands before and after using this medication, but do not wash your genitals until six hours have passed and you have had sexual intercourse. Otherwise, you may wash away the medication before it has had a chance to act properly. Douches are not recommended with this drug. They can cause irritation, aggravate existing discomfort, and wash out the medication and prevent it from working.

Do not use spermicide recklessly, and make sure you apply a fresh batch every time you have sex. The drug can wear off or weaken over time, increasing the likelihood or accidental pregnancy. If you think this drug may have failed, visit your doctor to discuss your options. Day-after methods like Plan B can be used, among other solutions.

Spermicide is an umbrella title used to cover a number of drugs, both name-brand and generic. This drug can also have varying active ingredients. Each brand or ingredient may affect you differently. If you are allergic to one, you may have no reaction to another. Likewise, if you find a brand that works for you, stick with it.

Allergic reactions include itching, swelling, burning, and pain in the vagina. More severe reactions can escalate into closing of the airways, trouble breathing, and hives. An untreated, ignored allergic reaction can become fatal in a few moments. If you begin to feel pain or discomfort while using this drug, stop having sex immediately and contact a doctor. If the symptoms become dangerous, go to a hospital or emergency room immediately, or call paramedics for on-site assistance.

This contraceptive is a viable option for anyone lacking the funds or resources to get hormonal medication. However, it should never be used strictly in the place of condoms. If you are having sex with untested partners or strangers, you should not use spermicide as your primary contraceptive. While it can prevent pregnancy when used properly, it does not protect against other sexual dangers. Condoms should be used in tandem with spermicide for added protection.

Spermicide is a cheap, hormone-free contraceptive that can be used by anyone, regardless of age or condition. It can be a valuable option for women that cannot take other contraceptives due to health issues or lack of money. While it should not be used as STD protection, it does have a high rate of success in preventing pregnancy. Only use spermicide as directed, and talk to your doctor, gynecologist, or any other medical professional if you need advice.

Conditions Treated

  • Pregnancy prevention

Type of Medication

  • Contraceptive

Side Effects

Side effects may occur when using spermicide, especially if you have not used it before. The introduction of new ingredients into your body can take an adjustment period, and while these effects may be harmless, talk to your doctor if they become persistent or painful. You may be allergic to the ingredients in your medication, or you may be unable to use spermicide for other reasons. Do not ignore pain or discomfort, as it may be a sign that spermicide is not the right contraceptive for you.

Males introduced to spermicide aren't likely to experience side effects. Any itching, rash, or burning sensations may be a sign of an allergic reaction. If your partner is allergic to spermicide, opt for condoms next time you two have sex and discuss other options in the future.

Women may experience other mild effects, including:

  • Cloudy urine
  • Increased urination
  • Mild irritation
  • Increased discharge or a wet, slippery sensation
  • Vaginal dryness or odor

If these side effects intensify or persist, stop using spermicide and contact a medical health professional. If your vagina starts to itch or becomes extremely dry, make sure to wash regularly and talk to your doctor if the issue persists. Your body may be reacting adversely to the drug, which can result in an infection in these cases. Stop using spermicide if you believe it has adverse effects on you. If you must continue using spermicide, try a different brand, especially one with a different active ingredient.

Take good care of your vagina, especially when you are using foreign agents like spermicide. Wear liners or sanitary pads if tampons cause irritation, and try to reduce the amount of daily friction. Wear breathable, cotton underwear as often as possible, and bathe often. Urinate after sex to avoid infection, and avoid vaginal washes like douches or soaps. These can alter the environment and pH of your vagina, disrupting natural functions and increasing your risk of infection.

If you experience discomfort or pain, stop using spermicide or avoid administering it. There may be an existing issue that spermicide can aggravate, or the drug itself may be causing the problem. Make an appointment with your doctor, and try considering other contraceptives if you think spermicide isn't right for you. There are a number of other options.

If money is an issue, look into insurance coverage that can pay for your medication, or talk to your partner about splitting the cost. If you have a steady sexual partner, they are likely benefiting from the use of contraceptives as well, so it is in both of your best interests to pay for them equally.

Dosage

The proper dosage for spermicide can vary depending on what kind you are using, how you're applying it, and how often you're having sex. You will need to use a fresh dose every time you have sex, as spermicide does not have a long activity period after administration. However, this drug should not cause any discomfort or overdose if you use more than usual in 24 hours. That being said, don't use more than necessary if you can avoid it. Spermicide can be messy, and using too much can cause intensify this.

Spermicide has a number of forms and active ingredients, both of which can change as you move from brand to brand. The dose may change depending on what you are using. Here are some common forms of spermicide and their suggested doses.

Octoxynol 9, for use with a diaphragm

Cream form: Two teaspoonfuls inserted into the diaphragm. Have sex within six hours after administration, or you may have to apply a fresh dose. Insert an applicator-full of the cream before sex if you believe it may be necessary.

Jelly form: One applicator-full inserted into the diaphragm. Have sex within six hours after administration, or you may have to apply a fresh dose. Insert an applicator-full of the jelly before sex if you believe it may be necessary.

Nonoxynol 9, for use in varying forms.

Film form: Apply one film into the vagina 5-15 minutes before intercourse. Have sex within the next hour, or use another film.

Cream form: An applicator-full of 5% concentration cream should be inserted into the vagina before you have sex. When used with a diaphragm, insert one applicator-full of the cream into the cup of the diaphragm, and use more as needed before sex. Have sex within six hours after administration, or apply more.

Gel form: One applicator-full of the gel should be inserted into the vagina. For 5% gel, have sex within a few moments. Times for other concentrations may vary from 24 hours to four hours. Check the individual packaging, and ask a medical professional if you have doubts. For use with a diaphragm, insert two teaspoonfuls and coat the rim in the gel before inserting it. Have sex within six hours, and use more gel if necessary.

Foam form: Insert and applicator-full of the foam no longer than one hour before sex. Insert an extra dose if an hour has passed or you plan on having sex again. For use with a diaphragm, use an applicator-full, and have sex within an hour. This form has a shorter activity period, so you may need to use more.

Jelly form: Use an applicator-full of the jelly just before sex. The contraceptive ability of the jelly only lasts one hour, so use more if you believe an hour has passed. For use with the diaphragm, insert an applicator-full of the jelly and have sex within the hour. Make sure to coat the rim of the diaphragm as well. If you need to use more, administer another dose of the jelly normally.

Suppository form: Insert one suppository into the vagina ten to fifteen minutes before sex. This form also only works for one hour, so use another if you find yourself waiting for longer than an hour. For use with a diaphragm, insert the diaphragm first, and administer the spermicide suppository next. Use another suppository if an hour or more has passed.

Benzalkonium chloride, only available in suppositories

Suppository form: Insert one suppository into the vagina ten to fifteen minutes before sex. Have sex within four hours, or use another. For use with a diaphragm, insert the diaphragm first and administer the suppository next. Use more spermicide as necessary.

The dosages for spermicide do not change according to your weight, age, or who you are having sex with. Do not hesitate to use another dose if you believe much time has passed. It is better to be safe than sorry. Teenagers can use spermicide, although it is recommended that they receive proper sex education beforehand.

Spermicide should be used in similar manners. Wash your hands thoroughly before using your hands or an applicator to administer it into your vagina. Put your foot up on a stool or toilet seat for better access, and you can use a portable mirror to get a better look as you do so. Wash your hands after using spermicide, and make sure to inform your partner that you are using spermicide as your primary contraceptive.

Follow the instructions listed on the package carefully. The internet should only be used as a secondary resource, and always listen to a doctor or medical professional. Do not use spermicide as your primary contraceptive if you find yourself having frequent, spontaneous sex. This contraceptive requires vigilance and planning, and neglecting to use it properly may result in failure and accidental pregnancy.

Interactions

This medication is a non-hormonal contraceptive that does not affect any major organs. Therefore, it does not have any major interactions with OTC or prescription drugs. However, you should talk to your doctor if you begin using spermicide. The contraceptive you use may affect your health, and your doctor should stay informed on what you are using. Much of your reproductive health relies on contraceptives, so make sure to mention spermicide to your doctor when they ask about your sexual activity.

Spermicide may interact adversely if you have a partner with HIV/AIDS. If you are using spermicide during sex, it may cause irritation to the vagina or rectum, which could increase your chances of getting HIV from your partner. Make sure to get tested before sex, and talk to your doctor if you or your partner have HIV/AIDS. You should always stay protected in these situations. Be cautious of how you and your partner have sex, especially if you have a steady relationship or spontaneous sex life.

Beware of douches or vaginal washes while using spermicide. If you wash it out before six hours have passed since sex, you may reduce the medication's effects. Douches and washes may cause irritation in the vaginal walls and labia, which can increase the likelihood of spermicide affecting you negatively. If you have used spermicide without problem before, and now you are experiencing irritation after douching, the spermicide may not be the issue.

Beware of how you use vaginal washes, as they can upset the balance of your vagina. This can cause yeast infections or other bacterial upset in your vagina. The use of douches and spermicide in tandem may cause aggravated irritation, so it is advised that you only wash with warm water after using spermicide.

Warnings

Like all medications and contraceptives, spermicide can come with downsides and warnings. Do not choose spermicide as your primary contraceptive if you have doubts about whether or not you'll be able to use it reliably. This contraceptive requires a bit more planning beyond a-pill-a-day and more preparation than a condom. It can be a valuable option for people that cannot use hormonal birth control, or people that are allergic to latex condoms.

Beware of allergies when using spermicide. There are some active ingredients that you may react negatively to, so do not continue using spermicide if you find yourself experiencing allergy symptoms. Be sure to mention that you are using spermicide to your sexual partners, and make sure they don't have an allergy to it before sex. If they don't know, offer some to test on their thigh beforehand, or just use a condom in tandem with the spermicide.

Allergy symptoms may include persistent itching, burning, pain, and rash. If left unchecked, these symptoms can escalate to trouble breathing and anaphylactic shock. Go to the emergency room or call emergency services if you believe your life may be in danger. Otherwise, stop using spermicide as your contraceptive and look into other options. If you must use non-hormonal birth control, try using condoms. For people with latex allergies who are also allergic to spermicide, look into hypo-allergenic condoms.

This contraceptive is not a universal protective agent. Spermicide only protects against pregnancy, not STDs or HIV/AIDS. Do not use spermicide to prevent those things. If you regularly have sex with strangers, always use a condom. Spermicide should be used in situations where both people have been tested, and only want to prevent pregnancy. That being said, try to avoid having sex with partners that haven't been tested, or refuse to get tested.

Spermicide may increase your likelihood of yeast infections or other bacterial imbalances, especially if you use it often. If you have a sensitivity to the product, it can cause irritation and unbalance your pH. This provides the perfect environment for opportunistic bacteria to cause infection.

If you experience multiple yeast infections while using spermicide, stop using it and switch to a brand with a different active ingredient. If you still experience issues, try another form of contraceptives.

Avoid using douches or vaginal washes with this contraceptive. They can cause added irritation and put you at risk of infection. They can also wash out the cream/jelly/gel before it had a chance to work properly. Washing out the spermicide too soon after sex can cause accidental pregnancy. It is advised that you wait five to six hours before washing yourself after using spermicide. This gives the medication enough time to eliminate all active sperm.

Douches and vaginal washes can also upset the balance of your vagina. Disrupting your body's natural functions with too many soaps and scents can cause serious irritation, infection, and even permanent damage. Do not take risks when it comes to your bodily health, and do not feel self-conscious about how your vagina smells/tastes. Unless you have unpleasant discharge or a foul odor, you shouldn't worry. Every vagina just has a natural scent, and trying to change it can put you at risk for infection.

Be cautious of how you use spermicide, especially if you find yourself having frequent, spontaneous sex. Many forms of spermicide should be used shortly before sex, so it takes a degree of planning and preparation. If you feel that too much time has passed since your spermicide administration, use another dose. Use spermicide every time you have sex. This medication does not have a long activity period, so you must use it every time you have intercourse to avoid pregnancy.

Spermicide should only affect sperm, so it does not have a dosage limit. Do not use too much, however, as it may become messy or uncomfortable for you. Use the recommended dose, and administer more if necessary, but do not feel paranoid and over-use the product.

Due to its messy nature, you may want to change your sheets or put down a towel/blanket every time you have sex. While some people may find this troublesome, it may be necessary to avoid messes. Spermicide gels and creams may make you feel slick or wet even after sex. Resist the urge to wash it out, as this may reduce its effectiveness. Wait six hours, and then you can take a thorough shower or bath.

Spermicide is often used with diaphragms, cervical caps, or sponges. These can be helpful in the use of spermicide and offer a reliable, second layer of protection. However, you should not use these items during your period, as they can cause toxic shock syndrome. Make sure to take out your caps, sponges, and diaphragms during heavy bleeding. If possible, only put them in before sex and remove them afterward. This can reduce the chances of you forgetting about it.

Symptoms of toxic shock syndrome include:

  • Chills and shakes
  • Sudden fever
  • Sunburn-like rash and peeling on your body, especially hands and feet
  • Muscle aches
  • Seizures
  • Other infection-like symptoms

Toxic shock syndrome can be fatal if left untreated, so do not take it lightly. Beware of how you use your contraceptive aids. While spermicide alone cannot cause toxic shock, it is often used in tandem with items that can. Be responsible with your reproductive health, and educate yourself before using items like diaphragms and caps.

Talk to your doctor, or another medical health professional before deciding on spermicide. They can offer advice and important information on how it works, how to use it, and how to make the most of your experiences using it. Find a brand that works for you, and always talk to your partners and let them know that you are using spermicide.

Spermicide is, for the most part, a risk-free contraceptive. It can be used to prevent pregnancy, and may even double as a lubricant. It can be a useful option for any person that cannot take hormone-based contraceptives but don't want to become pregnant. While it does require a bit more planning and preparation than some other options, many people use it as their primary contraceptive.

Storage

Spermicide should be kept within its tube or container until use. Do not take it out of the tube until you plan on using it. Store spermicide at room temperature, and do not heat/freeze this medication. Avoid contact with water, as this may wash it away or weaken its potency. Store out of reach of children and pets. If you are traveling, you must keep spermicide within its original container. Make sure to let the TSA agent know what it is, and keep the container sealed to avoid messes.

This contraceptive can be kept in dresser drawers, bathroom cabinets, or in boxes. Keep an eye on the expiration date, and do not use spermicide if it has expired. Expired spermicide can fail and result in accidental pregnancy. Throw away spermicide like any other topical cream or gel. Seal the container properly, and throw it away with the rest of your garbage. Make sure you do not leave the discarded container where pets or children can get it.

Summary

Forms of spermicide have been in use for thousands of years. Ancient forms of spermicide included things like lemon juice and lactic acid. While we have much safer forms of spermicide now, this is not an old concept. We've had many generations to perfect the ingredients, and it is now more reliable than ever. Many people use spermicide as their primary contraceptive, and even couples in steady relationships choose spermicide over things like condoms and hormonal birth control.

Spermicide can double as a lubricant, and most traditional spermicides are unscented and do not stain. While they can be messier than some other forms of birth control, they can also allow for more pleasurable sex. Both parties can benefit from the use of spermicide, making it a versatile contraceptive.

While spermicide cannot protect against STDs and HIV/AIDS, neither can hormonal birth control. Always use condoms when having sex with a stranger, and get tested often to make sure that your health is not at risk. If you wish to have unprotected sex with someone, make sure both of you get tested beforehand. Do not accept old tests as fact, since they may have had unprotected sex with others since they were cleared. There is no shame in getting tested, so do it often and encourage your partners to do so as well.

This form of contraception also requires a bit more planning than other medications. Talk to your partner about when you're having sex, and plan ahead for your encounters. Administer the spermicide within ten to fifteen minutes of sex, and be sure to add extra doses if you feel like too much time has passed.

The activity period of spermicide can vary on what form you are using, and the active ingredients in your spermicide of choice. Follow the dosage map if you are unsure when you need to re-dose. There is little to no risk of overdose when it comes to this form of contraception, so don't hesitate to add another application if you feel it may be necessary.

Do not wash out spermicide before it had a chance to work, and follow the instructions carefully. Administer it soon before sex, add extra doses as necessary, and wait six hours before washing the medication from your system. A failure to follow these instructions may result in accidental pregnancy. If you think you may be at risk of pregnancy, look into day-after solutions like Plan B, and contact your doctor. Follow up with pregnancy tests, and stay in contact with your partner.

Spermicide can be a valuable option for people that have allergies to latex, or cannot take hormonal birth controls for health reasons. Where some hormonal birth controls can interact negatively with other conditions and medications, spermicide does not interact with any drugs, over the counter or otherwise. This makes them a safe option for people that don't want to become pregnant but cannot use other forms of birth control.

In other cases, spermicide can just be the most comfortable, affordable, and pleasant option for an individual. Many people use it solely because it is on-hand and makes sex more enjoyable. It can be found in a variety of forms, so you should be able to find one that works for you and your partner.

 

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Last Reviewed:
January 31, 2018
Last Updated:
January 27, 2018