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The vaginal contraceptive sponge is a barrier method of
birth control. It contains a spermicide called
nonoxynol-9 that is released over the 24 hours that the sponge may be left in
the vagina. The sponge also blocks the cervix so sperm can't pass. It can be
inserted immediately before intercourse or up to 24 hours before. It is left in
place for 6 hours after intercourse.
The sponge is
less effective for women who have delivered vaginally than it is for women who
The difference in sponge failure rates for women who have
given birth to children vaginally and those who have not may be due to changes
in the cervix after vaginal delivery.
The sponge does not protect against
sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including
HIV. Some studies show that use of the sponge dries
and irritates the vagina, which may increase the risk of HIV infection.2
The use of spermicides with nonoxynol-9 may increase your risk of
getting HIV/AIDS. So be sure to use a condom for STI protection unless you
know that you and your partner are
for the sponge and other barrier methods are higher than for most other methods
of birth control. Other disadvantages of the sponge include the
Trussell J (2007). Choosing a contraceptive:
Efficacy, safety, and personal considerations. In RA Hatcher et al., eds.,
Contraceptive Technology, 19th ed., pp. 19–47. New
York: Ardent Media.
Speroff L, Darney PD (2011). Barrier methods of contraception. In A Clinical Guide for Contraception, 5th ed., pp. 281–313. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
May 3, 2012
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Femi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology
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