Often Forgotten Facts About Spermicide


Spermicide has long been a useful method of contraception. When used together with condoms effectiveness rates in prevention of pregnancy can be around 97%. Between vaginal gels, contraceptive film, foam, suppositories and creams, spermicides offer a plethora of choices that can be purchased at pharmacies without a doctor’s prescription.
Benefits include price, convenience, effectiveness and the fact that spermicide contains no hormones as some women prefer non hormonal methods of birth control.

An article on NPR.org discusses the fact that while spermicide is known for prevention against pregnancy, and can also kill bacteria and viruses associated with some sexually transmitted infections. It is not widely known that the ingredient in spermicide that is responsible for this, Nonoxynol 9, can also increase the risk of STD and HIV infection.

Originally the thinking behind Nonoxynol 9 was that it was a breakthrough in the prevention of HIV because it was capable of killing the virus. Now researchers know that use of Nonoxynol 9 actually increases the risk of HIV transmission because it irritates and disrupts the cell lining of the vagina and rectum. This can cause small cuts which leave the body open to HIV as well as sexually transmitted disease infection. Erosion of cell membranes also destroys the body’s own protective layers further leaving a person open to infection.

Today, spermicide is recommended for women who are in a monogamous relationship and it is only recommended for once a day use. Currently only about 1% of women use spermicide, mostly because it must be used with a cervical cap or diaphragm.

Sex workers who are at high risk for sexually transmitted infections as well as HIV should not use spermicide as they typically have sex several times a day with multiple partners. What was once thought to empower sex workers to protect themselves when sex partner refused to wear a condom is now known to actually contribute to the problem of sexual health issues.

The lesson to be learned from this research is that spermicide may be a good choice for someone who is in a monogamous relationship. Those who are not in a monogamous relationship should use condoms for better protection against pregnancy, HIV and sexually transmitted infections.



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