What Are Spermicide Condoms?

If you’ve ever walked into a drugstore and looked at the selection of condoms, you may wonder what spermicide condoms are, and how they compare to other kinds.

What Are They?

Spermicide condoms are coated with a chemical that kills sperm. In most cases, the chemical is something called nonoxynol-9 (N-9). It can also act as a lubricant.

How Effective Are They?

As a whole, condoms are an effective form of birth control. They prevent pregnancy 87% of the time with typical use. And when used perfectly (wearing them properly, putting them on before sex, storing them properly in a cool, dry place, etc.), they work 98% of the time.

While it might seem that a condom with spermicide would be more effective in preventing the spread of STDs, that’s not the case. Spermicide condoms are no better at preventing the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), like gonorrhea and chlamydia, than any other kind of condom.

In fact, the use of N-9 may raise your chances of contracting STDs, including HIV. Spermicide can also cause vaginal, penile, or rectal irritation, which makes you more likely to get an infection.

Because of all of this, and because spermicide condoms often cost more, and expire quicker, there’s no real benefit to them over other lubricated condoms.

Dos and Don’ts

If you or your partner has HIV or AIDS, you shouldn’t use spermicide condoms because spermicides do not protect against HIV or AIDS. They also do not protect against other STDs. All this also makes them ineffective during anal sex.

Spermicide is also known to lead to urinary tract infections in some women. So if you get UTIs often, you may not want to use spermicide condoms.

If you’re having oral sex, you may find that they have a funny taste, so you may want to consider flavored or lubricated condoms instead.

They are safe to use during pregnancy. There’s no evidence that spermicides cause birth defects.

And spermicide condoms are an effective form of birth control, but they do not have any benefit over condoms without spermicide.

If you and your partner only want to prevent pregnancy and are not at risk of getting HIV or an STD, they are one birth control option for you. But due to their cost and potential for irritation, other types of condoms, such as those lubricated with silicone, are often a better choice.

If you’re unsure, talk with your doctor.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Nivin Todd, MD on April 16, 2019



National Health Service (UK): “Your contraception guide”                

DrugBank: “Nonoxynol-9.”

World Health Organization: “Nonoxynol-9 ineffective in preventing HIV infection.”

K4Health: “Family Planning: A Global Handbook for Providers.”

Mayo Clinic: “Spermicide.”

Federal Register: “Over-the-counter vaginal contraceptive and spermicide drug products containing nonoxynol 9; required labeling. Final rule.”

AIDS: “Rectal use of nonoxynol-9 among men who have sex with men.”

CDC: “Nonoxynol-9 Spermicide Contraception Use -- United States, 1999,” “Condom Effectiveness.”

Mount Sinai: “You Asked It: Does Spermicide Work?”

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