What exactly is spermicide?

Spermicide is a chemical used to reduce the number of living sperm. The fewer sperm swimming around, the less likely you are to get pregnant. The main chemical in spermicide is Nonoxynol-9, which is a very harsh detergent like bleach. Spermicide comes in many forms. Some condoms come with spermicide in their lubricant. There are also spermicide foams, strips, sponges, and gels that can be found in any pharmacy.


How well does spermicide work to prevent pregnancy?

Just using spermicide foams, strips, or gels without any other form of birth control, there is a 20-60% chance you will get pregnant. Spermicide is hard to use and not very effective. Condoms that have spermicide on them have so little spermicide that they have almost no added benefit than simply using the condom. Plus, spermicide makes the condom expire faster.


Does spermicide kill HIV?

In the 1980's, laboratory tests showed that Nonoxynol-9 did kill the HIV virus, but that is NOT true in actual use. In the study, they were using large quantities of Nonoxynol-9... too large to safely use on human beings. If you use a lot of Nonoxynol-9, it will kill just about anything.


Does spermicide make it easier to get HIV?

Very recently, the World Health Organization ran a study to see the actual relationship between using spermicide regularly and getting infected with STDs. The final results showed that frequent use of spermicide actually irritated the walls of the vagina so much that the women who used it were more likely to get infected with anything that could be spread through blood, like HIV.


The FDA no longer allows new products using Nonoxynol-9 to make it onto the market. Condom manufacturers like Durex have completely stopped making and selling condoms lubricated with spermicide. The Coalition for Positive Sexuality recommends not using spermicide because the risks outweigh the benefits. There are plenty of safer ways to try and prevent pregnancy.

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