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The active ingredient for spermicides is Nonoxynol-9 (N-9). This detergent-like substance has been shown to kill the active sperm in the male semen, thus reducing the chance of pregnancy during intercourse.

A spermicide is an easy to use method of contraception which can be highly effective (with a rate of 94% effectiveness), safe to use and it also provides lubrication during intercourse.

Unfortunately, N-9 is known to wash away the natural layer that protects a woman’s vagina from germs. This can cause a yeast or bladder infection (leading to thrush or cystitis).
If you use Nonoxynol-9 often, you must ensure that you have regular check ups with a doctor, even if you do not show any symptoms that could indicate an infection.

This method of birth control is non-hormonal and well suited for women who are unable to use hormonal products because of the risk of their dangerous side effects.

Unfortunately no method of birth control can offer an absolute guarantee against pregnancy and even when using this method of contraception correctly, there is still a 6% chance of becoming pregnant within a year of its use. This increases to 26% from incorrect or inconsistent use.

Spermicides normally come in the form of gels, foams, creams or pessaries and are clear, unflavoured and non-staining products that do not require a prescription. They normally come in strengths of 4% Nonoxynol-9 and must be stored at room temperatures of 20º-25º C (68º-77º F).

Exposures of extreme cold and hot temperatures must be avoided.

Warning: They are only for vaginal use and must never be used for rectal (anal) sex.

They are normally used together with another method of contraception such as condoms, diaphragms or cervical caps to add to their effectiveness.

The Nonoxynol-9 substance is normally already added on many brands of condoms, lubricants and creams, so always check the package before its use.

Spermicides can also be use separately before intercourse without the use of other methods of contraception.

They must be inserted not more than 1 hour prior to intercourse and an additional application is required every time intercourse is repeated.

Important: This method of contraception must be used correctly, each and every time intercourse takes place, regardless of the time of the month.

Spermicides can also be useful if using other methods of contraception, such as a condom, and you are unfortunate to have an accident in which the condom tears or brakes during intercourse.

Be sure to stop all sexual activity immediately and apply the spermicidal right away after any unwanted accidents to reduce the risk of pregnancy.

Warning: Spermicides do not protect against any type of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) including Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
If you are unsure of whether your partner may be infected or not, be sure to use another form of birth control such as a condom together with the spermicide.
Remember that even when using a condom, this only reduces the risk of catching STDs and it does not eliminate the risk of catching or spreading HIV (the virus that causes AIDS).
If you both have been sexually active with other partners in the past and are on a permanent relationship, it is always advised to have a health check up at any Family Planning clinic or Genito-Urinary Medicine (GUM) clinic or any other health care professional before having unprotected sex.

Unfortunately studies have also been carried out, raising concerns that the spermicidal Nonoxynol-9 can irritate the vagina and rectum causing rashes or sores.
Rashes and sores can let in the viruses like HIV or hepatitis B easily through the broken skin.

Warning: Sometimes the irritation may not display any symptoms but it can greatly increase the risk of getting HIV/AIDS from and infected partner.


- Burning of the vagina or penis.
- Itching of the vagina or penis.
- Rash or other irritations of the vagina or penis.
- Painful urination.

Warning: If any of these adverse reactions occur, discontinue the use of this product immediately and consult your doctor for questions on other methods of birth control.

Spermicides, like any other drugs, must be kept out of the reach of children at all times. Never use spermicides when having oral sex and in the case of accidental ingestion, call a Poison Control Centre, emergency medical facility, or a doctor IMMEDIATELY.

When buying spermicidal products, always check that the package is fully sealed. Never use a product if it seems to have been tamper with. Normally spermicidal products come individually wrapped so if the wrapper seems opened or torn, return the product with its entire contents to the place of purchase for a replacement or refund.

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