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What should I know about spermicide? (contraceptive foam, tablets, jelly, or cream)

Spermicide comes in many forms - foam, tablets, and cream or jelly - and is put into the vagina just before having sex. Spermicide kills the man’s sperm before it can get into the womb.

If used alone, spermicide is less effective than some other methods. But it is helpful when used as extra protection along with another method, like the diaphragm or condom.

Spermicides can be bought in many pharmacies and markets. Some women find that some types of spermicides cause itching or irritation inside the vagina.

Spermicides do not provide protection against any STI. Because spermicides can irritate the walls of the vagina, they may cause small cuts that allow HIV to pass more easily into the blood.

When to insert spermicide:

Tablets or suppositories should be put in the vagina 10 to 15 minutes before having sex. Foam, jelly, or cream work best if they are put in the vagina just before having sex.

If more than one hour passes before having sex, add more spermicide. Add a new tablet, suppository, or applicator of foam, jelly, or cream each time you have sex.