Birth Control Spermicides (cont.)
How to Use Spermicides
Spermicides are placed within the vagina, close to the cervix, before sex. Make sure your hands and any relevant equipment are clean before insertion. Follow package instructions carefully. Some spermicide products require the couple to wait 10 minutes or more after insertion for sex. One dose of spermicide usually lasts 1 hour. For repeated sex, use additional spermicide. After sex, the spermicide has to remain in place for 6-8 hours to make sure the sperm are killed. Do not douche or rinse the vagina during this time. (Douching is not recommended in general. See Birth Control Overview.)
For foams, shake the can vigorously, and fill the applicator. Insert the applicator into the vagina near the cervix. Push the plunger to deposit the spermicide in the vagina. According to the Northern Arizona University site on vaginal spermicides, 2 applicators full are needed for women at elevations higher than 3500 feet. Protection is immediate and lasts about an hour.
For gels or creams, fill the applicator by squeezing the tube. Insert the applicator as far as it will go without causing discomfort into the vagina, to make sure it is near the cervix. Hold the applicator still, and push the plunger to deposit the spermicide in the vagina. Protection is immediate and lasts about an hour.
For vaginal contraceptive film (VCF), hands must be dry before the product is touched. Remove the small thin sheet from its wrapper and insert it as far as you can into the vagina, so it is near the cervix. Protection begins in 15 minutes and lasts for no more than an hour.
For suppositories or tablets, remove the wrapper and insert into the vagina, near the cervix. Protection begins 10-15 minutes after insertion and lasts no more than an hour.
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
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