A spermicide condom differs from other condoms because it is coated with spermicide, a type of chemical that kills sperm and is designed to prevent sperm from entering the uterus.
How do spermicide condoms work?
A spermicide condom is coated with a chemical that kills sperm before they enter the uterus.
Spermicide usually comes in the form of a jelly, although it can also be a cream, foam, or gel. The chemical used in spermicide is typically nonoxynol-9, which works by preventing the sperm from moving.
When ejaculation occurs, the sperm will usually start swimming towards the cervix. However, spermicide is designed to kill the sperm before they reach the uterus and potentially find their way to an egg.
When used correctly, regular condoms are 98 percent effective as a form of birth control. However, no current evidence suggests that spermicide condoms are in fact any more effective than regular ones.
When considering which form of contraception to use, it is also useful to know how effective each option is at preventing sexually transmitted diseases (STIs).
While condoms can significantly reduce the risk of STIs if used consistently and correctly, there is no evidence to show that spermicide condoms increase that protection.
In fact, there is some evidence to suggest that frequent use of spermicides containing nonoxynol-9 may increase the risk of HIV infection and other STIs.
It is also important to be aware that using spermicides alone do not offer any protection against STIs and are considered an ineffective form of birth control.
Pros and cons of spermicide condoms
Spermicide condoms they may pose risks that may make other forms of birth control preferable.
There are some benefits to choosing spermicide condoms as a method of contraception, including:
- They are affordable. Spermicide condoms are an inexpensive way to protect from pregnancy and STIs.
- They are available without a prescription. Spermicide condoms are available to buy in grocery stores and pharmacies.
- They are effective. Spermicide condoms are an effective birth control method when used consistently and correctly.
However, there are also some negative implications of using spermicide condoms, which people must take into consideration, such as:
- They may be a more expensive option than regular condoms.
- They have a shorter expiry date than other types of condoms.
- They may increase a person's risk of getting or transmitting HIV.
- They may cause an allergic reaction in some people and irritate the penis or vagina.
- Condoms can sometimes slip off or break. In this case, a person may require emergency contraception.
If a person does experience an adverse reaction, such as itching, discomfort, redness or swelling after using a spermicidal condom, they should talk to a doctor. Eliminating symptoms may be as simple as switching brands, but a doctor can test for a latex allergy or other condition.
Common myths about spermicide condoms
Some people worry that using spermicide condoms or any form of spermicide can cause congenital medical conditions if they do get pregnant. There is no evidence to suggest this.
It is also a myth that spermicides can harm a breast-fed infant. Spermicides do not enter breast milk nor affect breast milk production, so it is safe to use spermicide condoms while breastfeeding.
Other options for STI and pregnancy protection
An IUD may be an effective form of birth control, although it does not protect against STIs.
Spermicide condoms are not for everyone, and there are many different types of birth control available. Each method has a different level of effectiveness and other pros and cons, so the choice depends on the individual.
Other options for preventing pregnancy include:
- Intrauterine device (IUD): A small plastic or copper coil inserted into a woman's womb that stops the sperm or egg surviving. IUDs do not protect against STIs.
- Birth control implant: A small tube inserted into the arm that stops eggs from being released. An implant lasts for up to 3 years but does not protect against STIs.
- Vaginal ring (NuvaRing): A small plastic ring is inserted into the vagina and lasts up to 21 days. The vaginal ring alone does not prevent STIs.
- The contraceptive injection: There is a range of contraceptive injections that last for various lengths of time. The injection contains progestogen, which can prevent the release of an egg and stop sperm from reaching it. The contraceptive injection does not prevent STIs.
- Birth control pill: There are many different versions of the contraceptive pill that are effective at preventing pregnancy if taken correctly. Birth control pills do not prevent STIs.
- The sponge: The contraceptive sponge is worn inside the vagina and prevents sperm from entering the cervix using a barrier and spermicide. It does not protect against STIs.
- A diaphragm: A diaphragm is inserted into the vagina, so it covers the cervix and blocks sperm from entering. Wearing a diaphragm alone will not prevent STI's.
- Emergency contraception: Sometimes called the morning after pill, emergency contraception works by preventing or delaying the release of an egg.
The female condom is worn inside the vagina and prevents sperm from entering the cervix. When worn correctly, it can protect against STIs, in much the same way as condoms that are worn on the penis.
Every type of birth control method has positives and negatives. A person's lifestyle, personal preference, and overall health can all help determine which kind of birth control and STI protection suits them best.
Spermicide condoms are an effective method of birth control and STI protection providing they are worn and used correctly. However, there is no evidence that spermicide condoms are better at providing birth control or STI protection than condoms without spermicide.
Spermicide condoms are inexpensive, but may still cost more than regular condoms and also have a shorter shelf life. It is also possible that frequently using spermicide condoms and other spermicide products may the increase the risk of HIV and STI transmission.