Spermicide contains a chemical that destroys sperm cells before they can fertilize the egg. It comes in different forms, including gel, foam, cream, film, suppository and tablet. Spermicides are often used in conjunction with diaphragms or male condoms.

Availability Nonprescription

How it's used

You apply the spermicide inside your vagina near the cervix. Effectiveness

Spermicides are 69 percent to 85 percent effective, meaning up to 31 out of 100 women who use this method as birth control for a year will become pregnant.

Issues to consider

Spermicides may cause vaginal irritation and urinary tract infection. Some spermicides contain an ingredient called nonoxynol-9, which was previously thought to protect against certain STDs, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia. But recent studies have shown that it doesn't protect against STDs and may even increase the risk of HIV transmission. Researchers are working to find a more effective form of vaginal microbicide, a substance that kills microorganisms such as viruses and bacteria.

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