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Birth Control Health Center

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The Birth Control Sponge: What to Know

What Is the Sponge?

It’s a form of birth control that some women use. This small, doughnut-shaped device is coated with spermicide.

You don’t need a prescription for the sponge, which is made of polyurethane foam.

Recommended Related to Birth Control

Do You Know Your Long-Term Birth Control Options?

You don’t have to take a pill every day. There are birth control methods that last weeks, months, or even years with little effort on your part – and no surgery. They are safe and effective for most healthy women. Which one is best for you? “The best method of contraception for any woman is the method that she’s going to use correctly and consistently,” says Elizabeth Micks, MD, MPH, an acting assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Washington Medical Center. Find...

Read the Do You Know Your Long-Term Birth Control Options? article > >

How Effective Is It?

Out of 100 women who use the sponge, 9-11 will get pregnant in a typical year.

How Does It Work?

First, the woman moistens the sponge with water. Then she places it into her vagina. It must stay there for at least 6 hours, and come out after no more than 30 hours. There’s a loop on the sponge to make it easier to take out.

The device protects against pregnancy in three ways:

1. It releases a spermicide to kill sperm cells for 24 hours. You can have sex during that time without needing more spermicide.

2. It’s designed to trap and absorb semen before the sperm have a chance to enter the cervix, which connects the vagina to the uterus.

3. It acts as a barrier between the sperm and the cervix.

Where Can I Get the Sponge?

It's available at most pharmacies and clinics.

Does It Protect Against Sexually Transmitted Diseases?

No. To protect against STDs such as HIV, the male condom provides the best protection.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD, FACOG on September 09, 2015

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