Key Points for Providers and Clients
  • Spermicides are placed deep in the vagina shortly before sex.
  • Require correct use with every act of sex for greatest effectiveness.
  • One of the least effective contraceptive methods.
  • Can be used as a primary method or as a backup method.

What Are Spermicides?

  • Sperm-killing substances inserted deep in the vagina, near the cervix, before sex.
    • Nonoxynol-9 is most widely used.
    • Others include benzalkonium chloride, chlorhexidine, menfegol, octoxynol-9, and sodium docusate.
  • Available in foaming tablets, melting or foaming suppositories, cans of pressurized foam, melting film, jelly, and cream.
    • Jellies, creams, and foam from cans can be used alone, with a diaphragm, or with condoms.
    • Films, suppositories, foaming tablets, or foaming suppositories can be used alone or with condoms.
  • Work by causing the membrane of sperm cells to break, killing them or slowing their movement. This keeps sperm from meeting an egg.