Birth control - over the counter; Contraceptives - over the counter; Family planning - vaginal sponge; Contraception - vaginal sponge
Spermicides and vaginal sponges are two over-the-counter birth control methods used during sex to prevent pregnancy. Over-the-counter means that they can be purchased without a prescription.
Spermicides and vaginal sponges do not work as well at preventing pregnancy as some other forms of birth control. However, using a spermicide or sponge is much better than not using birth control at all.
Spermicides are chemicals that stop sperm from moving. They come as gels, foams, creams, or suppositories. They are inserted into the vagina before sex. You can buy spermicides in most drug and grocery stores.
How to use spermicide:
Spermicides do not reduce your chance of an infection. They may increase the risk for spreading HIV.
Risks include irritation and allergic reactions.
Vaginal contraceptive sponges are soft sponges covered with a spermicide.
A sponge can be inserted into the vagina up to 24 hours before intercourse.
DO NOT use the sponge if you have:
How well does the sponge work?
Risks of the vaginal sponge include:
Harper DM, Wilfling LE, Blanner CF. Contraception. In: Rakel RE, Rakel DP, eds. Textbook of Family Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 26.
Marcdante KJ, Kliegman RM, Schuh AM. Adolescent gynecology. In: Marcdante KJ, Kliegman RM, Schuh AM, eds. Nelson Essentials of Pediatrics. 9th ed. Elsevier; 2023:chap 69.
Rivlin K, Davis AR. Contraception and abortion. In: Gershenson DM, Lentz GM, Valea FA, Lobo RA, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 13.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 1/10/2022
Reviewed By: John D. Jacobson, MD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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