Do you wonder how effective are spermicides and where you can buy them? We provide detailed information about contraceptive spermicides here!


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.

Quick Facts

  • 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).


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.


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:[3]

  • 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:[2]

  • 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


[1] Banerjee, et al. (2014). Insights of Spermicidal Research: An Update. Journal of Fertilization: In vitro – IVF-Worldwide, Reproductive Medicine, Genetics & Stem Cell Biology, 3. Retrieved from https://www.longdom.org/open-access/insights-of-spermicidal-research-an-update-2375-4508.1000138.pdf
[3] Shoupe, D. (2016). Barrier Contraceptives: Male Condoms, Vaginal Spermicides, and Cervical Barrier Methods. En D. Shoupe, The Handbook of Contraception: A Guide for Practical Management. Retrieved from http://eknygos.lsmuni.lt/springer/677/147-177.pdf
[4] Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. (2015). Canadian Contraception Consensus Chapter 5: Barrier Methods. JOGC Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada , 37. Retrieved from https://www.jogc.com/article/S1701-2163(16)39376-8/pdf
[5] World Health Organization Department of Reproductive Health and Research and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Communication Programs (2018) Family Planning: A Global Handbook for Providers. Baltimore and Geneva. Retrieved from https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/260156/9780999203705-eng.pdf?sequence=1
[6] World Health Organization. (2016). Selected practice recommendations for contraceptive use. Geneva. Retrieved from https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/252267/9789241565400-eng.pdf?sequence=1
[7] Xia, et al. (2020). DL-Mandelic acid exhibits high sperm-immobilizing activity and low vaginalirritation: A potential non-surfactant spermicide for contraception. Elsevier Masson. Retrieved from https://reader.elsevier.com/reader/sd/pii/S0753332220302961?token=063F3CA5FE829FE276755EF2EE8152EBC11B2906592153330A395D73878C354BC3E701A06960C98C04FA57B0D8AB401A