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Spermicide Safety & Effectiveness

Learn how safe and effective spermicide is in this Howcast video about birth control.


Spermicide is a product that kills the sperm before the sperm and the egg meet. It comes in various forms. It can come as a cream or a gel. It can come in a film, and it can also come in a little pellet. When you use the pellet and the film, you have to wait for those products to melt before you have the contraceptive effectiveness that you need.

Talking about contraceptive effectiveness, the spermicide alone, without the condom, is not that effective. You have about a one in four chance of getting pregnant with each active sex when you use this product alone. So 75 percent effectiveness, in my mind, is not an effective form of birth control.

Although it is not an effective form of birth control, the side effect profile for this is minimal. You may have some vaginal irritation. Your partner may have some irritation after sex. You may increase the amount of discharge that you have, and that discharge may be irritating to you. At some point, if you use this often enough, it may cause enough vaginal irritation to cause you to seek care with a nurse practitioner or a physician.

Having said that, even though the side effect profile is relatively low, you should still consider other forms of birth control. Again, it is not the most effective form without using a condom. If you're thinking about using the spermicide alone as a form of birth control, understand that there's a one in four chance that you can get pregnant using this form of contraception.

If you are thinking about using birth control other than the spermicide, please go back to your doctor or nurse practitioner and consider your options more carefully. The spermicide alone is not an effective form of birth control.

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