Contraceptive Sponge for Birth Control - Topic Overview
The vaginal contraceptive sponge is a barrier method of
birth control. It contains a spermicide called
nonoxynol-9. The sponge also blocks the cervix so sperm can't pass. It can be
inserted immediately before intercourse or up to 24 hours before. It is left in
place for 6 hours after intercourse.
Effectiveness in preventing pregnancy
The sponge is
less effective for women who have delivered vaginally than it is for women who
- Sponge failure rates for women who have never
delivered vaginally range from 9% to 12%. In other words, for this group of
women, from 9 to 12 out of 100 will become pregnant in the first year of using
- Sponge failure rates for women
who have given birth by vaginal delivery range from 20% to 24%. For this group
of women, from 20 to 24 out of 100 will become pregnant in the first year of
using a sponge.1
The difference in sponge failure rates for women who have
given birth to children vaginally and those who have not may be due to changes
in the cervix after vaginal delivery.
Effectiveness in preventing sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
The sponge does not protect against
sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including
HIV. Some studies show that use of the sponge dries
and irritates the vagina, which may increase the risk of HIV infection.2
The use of spermicides with nonoxynol-9 may increase your risk of
getting HIV/AIDS. So be sure to use a condom for STI protection unless you
know that you and your partner are
Advantages of contraceptive sponge
- It does not affect future fertility for either the woman or the
- It is used only at the time of sexual
- It is safe to use while breast-feeding.
It is available in drugstores without a prescription.
Disadvantages of contraceptive sponge
for the sponge and other barrier methods are higher than for most other methods
of birth control. Other disadvantages of the sponge include the
- Some people are embarrassed to use this method
or feel the method interrupts foreplay or intercourse.
- The couple
must be comfortable with using the sponge and be prepared to use it every time
they have sex.
- The sponge is not recommended for use during the first 6 weeks after having a baby.