Spermicides and vaginal sponges are two over-the-counter birth control methods used during sex to prevent pregnancy. Over-the-counter means that they can be purchased without a prescription.
Spermicides and vaginal sponges do not work as well at preventing pregnancy as some other forms of birth control. However, using a spermicide or sponge is much better than not using birth control at all.
Spermicides are chemicals that stop sperm from moving. They come as gels, foams, creams, or suppositories. They are inserted into the vagina before sex. You can buy spermicides in most drug and grocery stores.
How to use spermicide:
Spermicides do not reduce your chance of an infection. They may increase the risk of spreading HIV.
Risks include irritation and allergic reactions.
Vaginal contraceptive sponges are soft sponges covered with a spermicide.
A sponge can be inserted into the vagina up to 24 hours before intercourse.
Do not use the sponge if you have:
How well does the sponge work?
Risks of the vaginal sponge include:
Birth control - over the counter; Contraceptives - over the counter
Linares AC, Schutt-Aine AI. Contraception. In: Rakel RE, ed. Textbook of Family Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 26.
Jensen JT, Mishell DR. Family planning: contraception, sterilization, and pregnancy termination. In: Lentz GM, Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, Katz VL, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2012:chap 13.
Amy JJ, Tripathi V. Contraception for women: an evidence based overview. BMJ. 2009 Aug 7;339.
Updated by: Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Bellevue, WA; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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