Spermicide | Find My Method
  • Easy to find, no hormones, and no prescription needed
  • Effectiveness: spermicide is not very good on its own. It works best when paired with another barrier method. Only 72 to 82 individuals will manage to prevent pregnancy when using this method.
  • Side effects: most do not have any problems, but you or your partner could have some irritation
  • Effort: high. You need to apply it every time you have sex
  • Doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).


Spermicide contains chemicals that stop sperm from moving. It can be a cream, film, foam, gel, or suppository. Whatever option you choose, you insert it deep into your vagina so that it keeps sperm from getting through your cervix and into your uterus.


Best if used with another method. Spermicide works best when paired with another method, like the diaphragm or external condoms (male)/internal condoms (female). You can use spermicide to make a barrier method more effective, but it is not very effective if used alone.

You would not mind getting pregnant. The failure rate for spermicide alone is high. If you do not want to get pregnant, then you should use another method or only use spermicide in conjunction with another barrier method.

No prescription is necessary. You do not need to see a medical provider to use spermicide. Consider getting some condoms at the same time.

Some people are allergic to spermicide. If you feel some irritation using spermicide, you may be allergic to it. Many spermicides and contraceptive gels sold contain the same active ingredient – Nonoxynol-9. If you are allergic to this, then spermicide may not be the best option for you.

Both partners are HIV-free. One of the active ingredients, Nonoxynol-9, causes changes in your sensitive skin. It makes you more susceptible to HIV. If you or your partner have HIV, have not been tested recently or you are having sex with different partners, you may want to choose a method that can help protect you from HIV transmission.

Availability. Would you like to use this method?  Check out the  “Methods in my country” section to learn what is available

How To Use

Every type of spermicide is different, and there are a lot of types available. Be sure to read the instructions on the packaging and check the expiration date. Spermicide is easy to use: insert the spermicide with your fingers or with an applicator.

After insertion, some spermicides require that you wait ten minutes before having sex. These types of spermicides are also only effective for a single hour after you put them in. You will need to be careful with the timing of inserting spermicide and having sex.

Side Effects

Everyone is different. What you experience may not be the same thing as another person.

The Positive:

  • Easy to use and convenient to get a hold of
  • Can be inserted as foreplay
  • It is hormone-free
  • No prescription necessary
  • Can be used while breastfeeding

The Negative:

  • Can be messy and/or leak out of your vagina
  • Might irritate your vagina or your partner’s penis
  • Some people are allergic to spermicide
  • You may not like the taste
  • Many spermicides contain Nonoxynol-9, which can cause irritation (especially if you use it more than once a day). That can lead to an increased risk of HIV and STI transmission.
  • Hard to remember to use if you are drunk


  • We are here to help you. If it still does not feel right, we have ideas for other methods. Just remember: If you decide to change methods, make sure to stay protected while you switch. Condoms offer good protection while you find a method that suits your needs.What if the spermicide causes irritation?

    What if the spermicide is very messy?

    • Spermicide is messy. Try switching brands and make sure you are using your spermicide exactly as the instructions say you should. If you think it is too messy, consider using another method.
    • Still not working? If spermicide is not the best option for you, you may want to try a long-term, low-maintenance method like the IUD, the implant, or the injectable. If you prefer a hormone-free method without spermicide, you might want to try a non-hormonal IUD or external condoms (male)/internal condoms (female).
    • Try a different method: external condom (male); implant; internal condom (female); IUD; injectable