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.

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 on October 10, 2017

Sources

SOURCES:

Mayo Clinic: "Contraceptive Sponge."

womenshealth.gov: "Birth control methods fact sheet."

MedlinePlus: "Vaginal sponge and spermicides."

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