Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Birth Control Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Spermicide Use May Contribute to Women's Urinary Tract Infections

By
WebMD Health News

Nov. 21, 1999 (Philadelphia) -- The use of spermicides during intercourse may increase women's risk of developing a urinary tract infection, according to research presented here this week at the 37th annual meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. In previous studies, these infections have been linked with use of a diaphragm with spermicide. However, this is the first study to compare how different spermicide formulations used alone -- including suppositories, creams, jellies, sponges, foams, and films -- affect risk of infections.

"This study suggests that there may be variations in the relationship between [urinary tract infections] and spermicide use, depending on the type of spermicide that you use, in the absence of using a diaphragm," lead author Margaret A. Handley, MPH, tells WebMD. Although Handley cautions that it's too early to say why this is so, she says "there's a lot of biological data supporting a relationship between spermicide use [and infection]."

Low-concentration spermicides seem to be a problem because the 'good' bacteria that exist in the vagina are more susceptible to being killed off by these spermicides. The bacteria that cause infection are then left to establish colonies, which creates infection, says Handley, who is currently completing her PhD in epidemiology at the University of California, Berkeley. She adds that higher-concentration spermicides seem to have a different effect on naturally occurring bacteria.

Jellies and creams are considered low-concentration spermicides because they contain less than 5% of the active ingredient.

For this study, 519 healthy, sexually active young women in the San Francisco Bay area reported on their use of contraceptives and history of urinary tract infections. The researchers' analysis focused on the 455 who indicated they had never used a diaphragm or cervical cap but had used spermicides in the form of suppositories, creams, jellies, sponges, foams, or films.

The researchers took into account all the women's ages, race/ethnicity, and lifetime number of sexual partners, lifetime history of spermicide use, as well as each woman's history of urinary tract infections.

Handley cautions against concluding that lower-concentration spermicides are more of a problem than the higher-concentration ones because this is a preliminary study and it relies on information women have reported about past usage. In an upcoming study, her research team will track women and their spermicide use to more fully examine the impact these products have on their reproductive health.

"I'm interested in looking at more of the properties of existing spermicidal and antibacterial methods of birth control," says Handley. "There really has not been enough understood about their properties." This study raises the issue that more research looking into not only the products' contraceptive properties but also their long-term effects may be important, she adds.

Today on WebMD

IUD
Here's what to expect.
man opening condom wrapper
Do you know the right way to use them?
 
birth control pills
Here's what to do next.
doctor and patient
His and her options.
 
Concerned teenage girl
Slideshow
hospital gown
Quiz
 
Birth Control Pills Weight Gain
Article
pregnancy test and calendar
Article
 
contraceptive pills
Slideshow
Young couple looking at each other, serious
Article
 
woman reading pregnancy test result
Article
calendar
Article