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Birth Control Barrier Methods (cont.)


  • The vaginal sponge was first introduced in 1983 and was taken off the market shortly thereafter because of concerns about infection.  It was reintroduced in the U.S. 2009, and has been gaining in popularity. 
  • The sponge is a soft circular polyurethane device that contains nonoxynol-9, the most commonly used spermicide. It is disposable and should be discarded after a single usage. It requires no prescription, and it may be appealing to women who wish to avoid using hormonal methods of contraception.
  • The sponge is inserted into the vagina and placed over the cervix. The polyurethane foam is designed to trap and absorb semen after it is deposited in the vagina, and the spermicide then kills or immobilizes sperm. The sponge has a polyester loop for removal.
  • It offers an immediate and continuous presence of the spermicide for a period of 24 hours. It continues to be effective if sexual intercourse is repeated during this time frame. The sponge should be left in place for at least 6 hours after sex. It should be removed no more than 30 hours after insertion because of a low, but finite, risk of toxic shock syndrome.
  • The FDA lists the failure rate for the previously marketed sponge to be 14-28 pregnancies per 100 women per year.
  • Serious medical risks are rare with the sponge.  These include vaginal irritation, allergic reactions, and difficulty with removal. Toxic shock syndrome is a rare but serious infection that can occur if the sponge is left in place longer than recommended.
  • Nonoxynol-9 provides protection against pregnancy, but neither the sponge nor the spermicide protects against STDs.

Medically reviewed by Wayne Blocker, MD; Board Certified Obstetrics and Gynecology


"Overview of contraception"

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/5/2016
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