For many women, birth control pills are a good choice to prevent a pregnancy. It's easy to get a prescription from your doctor, and they're generally safe and effective. They’re pretty hassle-free, too. You just have to remember to take a pill every day.
Different types are available. If you’re thinking about using one of them, here's what you should know to help you make a smart choice.
When using a jelly, foam, or cream, you can then have sex right away.
A spermicide film or suppository is inserted deep into the vagina using a finger and is placed close to the cervix. Film or suppositories must be inserted at least 15 minutes before having sex to allow the spermicide to spread in the vagina.
One application of spermicide is necessary for each act of sexual intercourse.
A nonprescription method
Spermicide use does not require a prescription or a visit to a health professional. Spermicide is sold in drugstores, grocery stores, and family planning clinics.
Spermicide and a condom used together provide a reasonable level of birth control without a prescription. Using spermicide alone is not recommended because it offers poor pregnancy prevention and does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). In fact, the nonoxynol-9 in most spermicides may increase the risk of getting HIV/AIDS from an infected partner.
Effectiveness in preventing pregnancy
The most effective strength spermicide contains at least 100 mg of nonoxynol-9 per dose. You are more likely to get pregnant if you use a weaker spermicide. There is no difference in effectiveness between various spermicide types, such as gel, film, or suppository.1
Typical use failure rate includes all possible users, including people who are careless and those who use a method perfectly every time. Perfect use failure rate includes only people who use a method perfectly every time.
Spermicide used alone has a high failure rate of 28% for typical users. This means that in 1 year, 28 out of 100 women who use spermicide as their only method of birth controlget pregnant. The perfect use failure rate is still high, at 18% (18 out of 100 women).2
Spermicide used with another barrier method (condoms, diaphragm, or cervical cap) is more effective at preventing pregnancy than spermicide alone. For example, spermicide with a diaphragm has an average failure rate of 12%. This means that in a year, 12 out of 100 women who use a diaphragm and spermicide together get pregnant. The perfect use failure rate is much lower, at 6% (6 out of 100 women).2
Vaginal douching is not considered a birth control method even if it is done with spermicides. Douching after intercourse does not prevent sperm from reaching the fallopian tubes, where fertilization takes place.