Birth Control Spermicides

Birth Control: Spermicides

Spermicides help prevent pregnancy by killing sperm before they can enter the uterus. They come in many forms, including foam, jelly, film, and suppository-like inserts. These can be bought in drugstores without a prescription.

Pregnancy rates

Talk to your health care provider about the effectiveness of this birth control method.

Using spermicides

  • For best protection against pregnancy, use spermicides with a barrier method (condom, diaphragm, or cervical cap).
  • Apply before there is any contact between the penis and vagina.
  • Check the package for instructions on how to apply.
  • Reapply each time you have sex.
  • Don't douche or use tampons for 6 to 8 hours after using a spermicide.


  • Easy to get. No prescription needed.
  • Either partner can apply them, so responsibility can be shared.
  • Come in many forms.
  • Easy to stop if you decide you want to become pregnant.


  • High pregnancy rate when used alone.
  • Provides little protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
  • Can interrupt sex.
  • May cause minor irritation of the skin or vagina.
  • May taste bad.

Spermicides may not be for you if:

  • You are not also using a barrier method.
  • You are allergic to spermicides.
  • You're not willing to interrupt lovemaking to apply them.