“Spermicide” describes a bunch of different creams, films, foams, gels, and suppositories that contain chemicals that stop sperm from moving. Inserted deep in the vagina, so it also keeps sperm from getting through the cervix and into the uterus.
Best if used with another method
Spermicide works best when paired with another method, such as the diaphragm or condoms. Spermicide can also be used to make a barrier method more effective, but it’s not very effective if used alone.
You wouldn’t mind getting pregnant
for those who plan to use spermicide alone, the failure rate is pretty high—28% for typical use.
No prescription necessary
For people who can't make it to the doctor (or don't want to), spermicide is an option. It's available at most drug stores and supermarkets.
Some people are allergic
Those who get irritated using spermicide are probably allergic to it. Unfortunately, all spermicides and contraceptive gels sold in the United States contain the same active ingredient, Nonoxynol-9. So, people who are allergic to that, cannot use spermicide.
You’re confident you’re both HIV-free
Nonoxynol-9 causes changes in sensitive skin around the vulva and vagina that can make a person more susceptible to HIV. If a person or their partner has HIV or hasn’t been tested recently, they may want to steer clear of this method.
Spermicide comes in many forms: gel and jelly, inserts, film, and foam. Because there are so many types of spermicidal products, and they’re all relatively comparable in availability and cost, which isn't likely to be too high.
Payment assistance: check with a local family planning clinics and find out if they offer free or low cost birth control (most do).
Note: Online ranges are averaged to include taxes and standard shipping costs. Price ranges are from a survey of select online and in-store vendors as of June 2016 and will no doubt change over time.
GEL & JELLY
- CVS: $1.20 - $2.00
- Rite Aid: $1.10 - $1.60
- Target: $1.20 - $1.40
- Walgreens: $1.00 - $1.70
- Walmart: $0.90 - $1.60
- Amazon.com: $1.10 - $2.80
- CVS.com: $1.25 - $1.70
- Drugstore.com: $1.15 - $1.50
- Pharmapacks.com: $0.90 - $1.45
- RiteAid.com: $1.35 - $1.60
- Target.com: $1.25 - $1.45
- Walgreens.com: $1.15 - $1.75
- Walmart.com: $0.95 – $1.60
- CVS: $1.30 - $1.60
- Rite Aid: $1.60 - $1.90
- Target: $1.05 - $1.20
- Walgreens: $1.50 - $1.75
- Walmart: $1.10 - $1.45
- Amazon.com: $1.25 - $1.80
- CVS.com: $1.45
- Drugstore.com: $1.45 - $1.75
- Pharmapacks.com: $1.20 - $1.50
- RiteAid.com: $1.70 - $1.90
- Target.com: $1.15 - $1.40
- Walgreens.com: $1.65 - $1.90
- Walmart.com: $1.15 - $1.35
- CVS: $1.10 - $1.25
- Walmart: $0.65 - $1.30
- Amazon.com: $1.30 - $2.20
- CVS.com: $1.25
- Pharmapacks.com: $1.10 - $1.50
- Walmart.com: $0.70 - $1.25
- CVS: $0.55 - $0.85
- Walmart: $0.45 - $0.65
- Amazon.com: $0.50 - $1.10
- CVS.com: $0.70
- Drugstore.com: $0.75 - $0.95
- Pharmapacks.com: $0.55 - $0.75
- Walgreens.com: $0.75 - $0.90
- Walmart.com: $0.60 - $0.65
How to Use It
Every type of spermicide is different, and there are a lot of them available. So be sure to read the instructions on the packaging and check the expiration date. For the most part, though, simply insert the spermicide with the fingers or with an applicator, just like inserting a tampon.
After insertion, some spermicides require that waiting ten minutes before having sex. These types of spermicide are also only effective for a single hour after they are put in.
Every method has its own positives and negatives, and because everyone's birth control is different what one person experiences may not be the same as another's experiences.
- Easy to use and convenient to get a hold of.
- Can be inserted as foreplay.
- Doesn't affect hormones.
- No prescription necessary.
- Can be used while breastfeeding.
- Can be kinda messy and/or leak out of the vagina.
- Might irritate the vagina or penis.
- Some people are allergic to spermicide.
- The taste may be off putting.
- All spermicides sold in the US contain Nonoxynol-9, which can cause irritation (especially if used more than once a day). That can lead to an increased risk of HIV and STI transmission.