The history of spermicides reaches centuries before Christ. Therefore they are thought to be one of the oldest methods of contraception. Nowadays, spermicides have been used for about 40 years since they have been introduced into market. They are a rather popular form of birth control, most frequently used in combination with other birth control methods . Spermicides are quite cheap, easy to purchase and comfortable to use.

What are spermicides?

They are chemical compounds, mostly containing nonoxynol-9, octoxynol-9, menfegol or benzalkonium chloride. They protect against pregnancy when inserted into vagina in a right way and time. The effectiveness of spermicides lies upon their ability to kill sperm so that it is not able to reach and fertilize an egg or ovum.

The companies that produce spermicides have introduced various types and forms of these chemical compounds. Generally, all the types differ only in composition and form of application whereas their action in birth control is all the same — in destroying or immobilizing sperm. There are spermicidal creams and jellies mainly used to apply on a diaphragm or cervical cap. They can also be used alone when applied into the vagina with the help of a special applicator. Although they are rather messy but also adds some lubrication needed for breastfeeding mothers or when a condom is used for birth control. Spermicidal foam is very similar to creams or jellies and is also applied with a special plunger-type applicator.

How to use spermicides?

Newer and more comfortable forms of spermicides are melting suppositories or foaming tablets. These should be inserted by hand or with an applicator into the vagina each time a few hours before sexual intercourse. They then melt or dissolve in the vagina and provide protection against pregnancy. The newest forms of spermicides are contraceptive films, which are thin spermicidal squares. These are very comfortable to use and should be applied over the cervix before vaginal intercourse. All these methods are easier to use but, unlike creams or jellies, do not provide any lubrication. Also there are male condoms that come in packets with spermicide already applied on a condom.

The efficiency of spermicides varies from 5% up to 60% failure in birth control. The reason for that is a high dependence upon the proper use of this method of contraception and whether an additional method of birth control is used. Any form of a spermicide should be used before the penis comes any near the vagina. Also spermicidal compounds should be applied once again if people are having sex multiple times in the course of one session. Proper use of spermicides increases the effectiveness of the method. Also when used with additional means of contraception, such as male condoms, diaphragms or cervical caps , spermicides have a higher efficiency in protecting against unexpected pregnancy.

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