- No hormones. No prescription.
- You can insert it up to 24 hours before sex
- Effectiveness: the sponge is not the most effective method, especially if you have already had a kid. With common use, only 76 to 88 of every 100 individuals will manage to prevent pregnancy.
- Side effects: you may have some irritation
- Effort: high – you have to put it in every time you have sex
- Doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
The sponge is a round piece of white plastic foam. It has a dimple on one side and a nylon loop across the top. It is 5 cm across, and you insert it into your vagina before you have sex. The sponge works in two ways: it keeps sperm from getting into your uterus by blocking your cervix, and also continuously releases spermicide.
Good option if you do not mind getting pregnant. Most people do not use the sponge correctly, so women often wind up pregnant. If you do not want to get pregnant or have a baby, think about using a different method.
You are comfortable with your body. If you are not okay with putting your fingers inside yourself, the sponge is not the best option for you. It is a lot like putting in a tampon, though: if you can do that, you can probably manage the sponge.
It takes discipline. You have to remember to insert the sponge every time you have sex. You will need a bit of self-discipline and planning. But at least you can carry it with you if you want.
Allergies? You should not use the sponge if you are allergic to sulfa drugs, polyurethane, or spermicide.
The pregnancy question. The sponge has no hormones, so you will be able to get pregnant as soon as you stop using the sponge. Protect yourself with another method if you stop using the sponge and do not want to get pregnant.
Availability. Would you like to use this method? Check out the “Methods in my country” section to learn what is available
How To Use
You can insert the sponge up to 24 hours before you have sex. It does take a bit of practice to use it correctly, so follow these instructions.
How to put it in:
- Wash your hands with soap and water. Let them air dry.
- Wet the sponge with at least 30 mL of clean water before you put it in.
- Activate the spermicide by giving the sponge a gentle squeeze.
- With the dimple side facing up, fold the sponge in half upward.
- Slide the sponge as far into your vagina as your fingers will reach.
- The sponge will unfold on its own and cover your cervix when you let go.
- Slide your finger around the edge of the sponge to make sure it is in place. You should be able to feel the nylon loop on the bottom of the sponge.
- You should only insert the sponge once. Do not reuse a sponge that you have already had inside you. When it is in, you can have sex as many times as you want.
- You are ready to have sex once it is inside.
How to take it out:
- Leave it in for at least six hours after sex.
- Wash your hands with soap and water.
- Put a finger inside your vagina and feel for the loop.
- Once you have the loop, pull the sponge out slowly and gently.
- Throw the sponge away in the trash. Keep it away from children and animals.
Tips and tricks
The sponge needs to be completely wet to activate the spermicide. Make sure to squeeze it to distribute the water.
Everyone is different. What you experience may not be the same thing as another person.
- You can put the sponge in up to 24 hours in advance
- You can have sex as many times as you like while it is in
- Neither you nor your partner should be able to feel the sponge
- It is hormone-free
- No prescription necessary
- Can be used while breastfeeding
- Some women have a hard time inserting it
- Can cause vaginal irritation
- May make sex messier
- May make sex dryer
- Some women are allergic to sulfa drugs, polyurethane, or spermicide and should not use the sponge
- Hard to remember to use if you are drunk
Failure rates vary wildly with the sponge. It can depend on whether or not you have had a kid. For women who have not given birth, the failure rate is 9% for perfect use, and 16% for the typical way people use it. For women who have already had kids, the failure rate is higher – 20% for perfect use and 32% for real-world use.
- 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 sponge keeps falling out?
- Try this: check to see if you have the sponge inserted deep enough. It should be up against your cervix.
- Still not working? If you are still having trouble, and you want to use a barrier method, you may want to switch to
- Try a different method: external condom (male); diaphragm; internal condom (female); IUD; patch; pill; injectable
What if the sponge is irritating me?
external condoms (male), internal condoms (female) or a diaphragm
- Or, if you would like to try something you will not have to insert or use every time you have sex, check out the IUD, The Injectable, the implant, the patch, or the pill.
- The irritation is likely from the spermicide. Since you cannot separate the two, you should try a different method.
- Still not working? Think about trying a method that does not require any spermicide.
- If you want to keep using a barrier method, consider using external condoms (male) or internal condoms (female).
- You might also consider using a method you do not have to think about each time you have sex, like an IUD, The Injectable, the implant, the ring, the patch, or the pill
- Try a different method: external condom (male); implant; internal condom (female); IUD; patch; pill; ring; injectable