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Birth Control Health Center

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The Birth Control Sponge

What Is the Sponge?

The sponge is a form of birth control used by women. It is a small, doughnut-shaped device that is coated with spermicide.

How Effective Is the Sponge?

With proper and consistent use, the sponge is 89%-91% effective.

How Does the Sponge Work?

The sponge is moistened with water and inserted into the vagina. It is made of polyurethane foam that feels like natural vaginal tissue.

The sponge protects against pregnancy in three ways:

  • It releases a spermicide to kill sperm cells.
  • It is constructed to trap and absorb semen before the sperm have a chance to enter the cervix.
  • It acts as a barrier between the sperm and the cervix.

The sponge provides a continuous presence of spermicide throughout a 24-hour period, allowing for multiple acts of intercourse within that timeframe without the need for additional spermicide.

Where Can I Get the Sponge?

The sponge is available without a prescription at most drug stores.

Does the Sponge Protect Against Sexually Transmitted Diseases?

No. The sponge may not protect against some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV (the virus that causes AIDS). The male condom provides the best protection from most STDs.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Kimball Johnson, MD on August 04, 2012

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