Font Size

Birth Control Spermicides (cont.)

How to Use Spermicides

Patient Comments

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 before 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.

When to Call the Doctor

If any abnormality is present that may prevent proper placement of the spermicide, talk to a health care provider before using.

If irritation occurs after a spermicide is inserted, sensitivity to the product is possible. Changing to a different product may help. Consult a health care provider or pharmacist for advice. Do not continue to use the product.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/20/2017
Medical Author:
Medical Editor:
Medical Editor:
Medical Editor:

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