What are spermicidal condoms and how do they work?

A spermicidal condom is unlike standard condoms. It’s coated with a chemical known as spermicide that’s designed to kill sperms and not let them enter the uterus. It is made up of a thin sheath, mostly made from latex. There is a lack of medical evidence that condoms coated with spermicide chemicals are most effective in birth control than those without.

Spermicidal condoms are not considered to safeguard from sexually transmitted diseases. They might increase the chances of getting HIV positive when having sex with someone already suffering from the disease.

Related: 12 Condom types for safe sex and extra pleasure

How does spermicidal condom work?

How does spermicidal condom work?
Image: Canva

A spermicidal chemical is used in a condom,  jelly, foam, cream, or gel. Spermicidal condoms use a spermicidal chemical known as nonoxynol-9 that’s primary work is to blocks the sperms from moving inside the uterus.  

In sexual intercourse, the sperms usually start moving towards the cervix when the male ejaculate. And nonoxynol-9 is designed to kill the sperm, not reach the uterus and find its way to the egg.

But as mentioned earlier, there is no strong medical evidence that declares spermicidal condoms the right choice for birth control and prevents sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV. Research claims that spermicidal condoms increase the risk of HIV infection and other STIs if used frequently. Hence they should not be your only option to safeguard.

Related: Lubricated condom: Is it the only option for you?

What are Nonoxynol-9 and its dangers?

Nonoxynol-9 or N-9 is typically a detergent that interrupts the plasma membranes or outer barrier of sperms and other cells. Few scientists claimed nonoxynol-9 as an effective ingredient to destroy sexually transmitted diseases, but current research has denied the fact.

When used frequently, spermicide condoms can increase your risk of getting infected from a sexually transmitted disease. They can also cause inflammation of the vagina and can even kill the layers of the cells in the vaginal epithelium, the cells that line the vigina.

Related: Ribbed Condoms: What are they, their benefits, and how to wear them?

How to safeguard yourself from spermicidal condoms?

If you are into frequent sexual activities, try non-lubricated condoms with N-9 free lubricant or a non-spermicidal condom. Lubrication is necessary during sex, and using a lubricant is one of the essential facts for safe sex.  Always buy N-9 free lubricant since a regular lubricant may not be safe for you and your partner.

Related: Delay condoms: What are they & who can use them?

Spermicidal condoms risks for oral and anal sex

Condoms with spermicidal are not good with anal or oral sex. Nonoxynol-9 tastes horrible and can make your tongue numb as well.  And with anal sex, N-9 may damage the rectal lining, which might increase the possibility of getting affected by sexually transmitted diseases or other infections. And that is why condoms without Nonoxynnol-9 are one of the best options for anal and oral sex.

Related: Ultrathin Condoms: for near-natural sex experience

Pros and cons of spermicidal condoms

Pros and cons of spermicidal condoms
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Condoms with the spermicidal chemical have multiple pros such as:

  • They are affordable and could be found easily at the nearby drug store or online
  • Spermicidal condoms are portable and lightweight
  • You do not need doctors prescription to buy spermicidal condoms
  • They are an adequate protection tool against unwanted pregnancy if used correctly

Likewise, there are cons of using spermicidal condoms such as:

  • Spermicidal condoms have a shorter shelf life
  • They are not much adequate protection against sexually transmitted diseases than other condoms
  • They may increase the risk of getting affected by HIV

As mentioned in the beginning, the spermicidal chemical, nonoxynol-9, used on spermicidal condoms, can cause temporary allergies such as itching, redness, and swelling. It could also cause urinary infections in women in contact with spermicidal condoms.

Spermicidal chemicals, nonoxynol-9, could also irritate the penis and the vagina and increase the risk of HIV. And the risk percentage increases if a spermicidal condom is used multiple times a day for several days.

Changing condom brands could help if you are experiencing above mentioned symptoms. It also makes sense to try other birth control methods if you and your partner are HIV positive, and then spermicidal condoms may not be the best option.

Related: Dotted Condoms: Are dotted condoms right for everyone?

Myths associated with spermicidal condoms

There are a few myths associated with spermicidal condoms, such as:

  • Using spermicidal condoms could increase the risk of getting affected by a congenital medical condition if you get pregnant.
  • Spermicidal condoms could harm breastfeeding infants. But the fact is that spermicidal chemicals neither enter breast milk nor affect the milk production process; hence it’s safe to use spermicidal condoms during breastfeeding.
  • Spermicidal condoms could kill the fetus. That’s not true. They do not cause any congenital disabilities, and the fetus will not be harmed as a result.

Related: What are latex condoms, and why are they so popular?

Alternatives for spermicidal condoms

Image: Canva

There are many birth control alternatives available in the market. The birth control method selection is entirely your choice because each method has different levels of requirements. Here is the list of other options for spermicidal condoms:

  • Emergency contraception: They are called morning-after pills as well. Their primary function is to delay the release of an egg. They can help prevent up to 95% of pregnancy chances when taken within five days after the sexual intercourse.
  • Diaphragm:  A diaphragm is a device or a cap that is inserted into the vagina with spermicide gel before sex and left in place for six hours after sex so that it can cover the cervix (entrance of the womb) and block sperms from entering.
  • The sponge: Similar to a diaphragm,  a contraceptive sponge, is a very soft, small disk-shaped device made of polyurethane foam that has spermicide chemicals.  It is inserted inside the vagina using a spermicidal chemical. It works similarly to the diaphragm. It stops sperms from entering the cervix.
  • Birth control pills: They are small pills that contain hormones to prevent pregnancies. The hormones available in the pill control the way body organs function, especially the uterus and ovaries. They are a good contraceptive option, but they do not help prevent sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Contraceptive injections: This is the most common types of contraceptive injections taken to prevent pregnancies. A contraceptive injection releases progestogen hormone into the bloodstream that eventually prevents pregnancy.
  • Vaginal ring: This is a small flexible plastic ring inserted into the vagina to prevent pregnancy. Vaginal rings contain hormones, estrogen, and progestin, which releases continuously into the bloodstream and prevent ovaries from releasing eggs to be fertilized.
  • Birth control implant: It is the most popular contraceptive method. It is a small tube inserted into the arms that eventually stops the eggs from being released. It is also known as Nexplanon and is a thin rod about the size of a matchstick.
  • Intrauterine device (IUD): It is a contraceptive device that contains copper. It is one of the most popular contraceptive device used within five days of unprotected sex. The device is directly inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy.
  • Female condom: A female condom is a soft pouch inserted into the vagina 1 hour before sex. It is a suitable contraceptive method to prevent pregnancy and help against sexually transmitted diseases. It is also called an internal condom.

Note: Non of the contraceptive methods mentioned above help protect from sexually transmitted diseases except male and female condoms.

It is recommended that you first consult with your doctor before choosing any one of these birth control methods. Your lifestyle habits and other factors such as your health history and body mass index are important factors while selecting a contraceptive method. Ensure you give it some time and consult with your doctor for better results and worry-free sexual life.

Related: Flavored condom: a perfect recipe for an erotic oral sex session

What this means for you

Spermicidal condoms are not as effective as regular condoms. They contain a spermicidal chemical known as nonoxynol-9 that may not help prevent sexually transmitted diseases. They are not good with oral or anal sex and are not recommend to be used over other contraceptive methods.


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