Font Size

Birth Control Spermicides

What Are Birth Control Spermicides?

  • Spermicides are chemical barriers to conception.
  • They are a reversible method of birth control, meaning that when a woman quits using them, full fertility returns.
  • Vaginal spermicides are available in forms such as foam, cream, jelly, film, suppository, or tablet.
  • Spermicides are not as effective as many other forms of birth control when used alone.
  • They are often used with barrier methods of birth control and are much more effective when used in this context.

How Spermicides Work

  • Spermicides contain a chemical that kills sperm or makes them inactive so they cannot enter a woman’s cervix.
  • Nonoxynol-9 is the active chemical in most spermicide products in the United States.
  • The concentration of the chemical depends on the product.

Obtaining Spermicides

  • Several brands and types of spermicides are available over the counter.
  • They can be obtained at drugstores, some supermarkets, and family planning clinics.
  • Planned Parenthood lists the cost of applicator kits for foam and gel at about $8, and refills at about $4-8. Film and suppositories are priced similarly. 
  • In some states, the cost is covered by Medicaid when provided by clinics or authorized by a private doctor.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/29/2016
Medical Author:
Medical Editor:
Medical Editor:
Medical Editor:

Must Read Articles Related to Birth Control Spermicides

Birth Control Barrier Methods
Birth Control Barrier Methods The practice of birth control is as old as human existence. Birth control barrier methods include the male condom, female condom, diaphragm, cervical cap and sp...learn more >>
Birth Control Behavioral Methods
Birth Control Behavioral Methods The practice of birth control is as old as human existence. Behavioral methods that don't use hormones such as birth control pills or mechanical devices such as...learn more >>
Birth Control Methods
Birth Control FAQs The practice of birth control is as old as human existence. Your choice of birth control method involves factors such as how easy it is to use, safety, risks, c...learn more >>

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Birth Control Spermicides:

Birth Control Spermicide - Patient Experience

Have you used spermicide as a method of birth control? Tell us whether it was effective.

Birth Control Spermicides - Benefits and Drawbacks

Tell us about the benefits and drawbacks of using spermicide as a method of birth control.

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Contraception »

The practice of contraception is as old as human existence.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

Medical Dictionary