The Lowdown on Vaginal Contraceptive Film (VCF)

Vaginal Contraceptive Film (VCF) is a little, clear, rectangularly-shaped contraceptive device that is widely available to the general public and yet is often an unknown option when it comes to protection.


Considering that the VCF is easy to use, is hormone-free, requires no doctor’s visit and has no discernible ‘barrier feeling,’ you may wonder why more people aren’t considering it for protection.  Let’s explore the answers together.

What is Vaginal Contraceptive Film (VCF)?

Basically, a box of VCF film contains individually packaged sheets of transparent film which is inserted into the vagina about 15 minutes prior to gettin’ it on. They resemble a small piece of transparency paper and they have the texture of a fruit roll up. After the allotted time frame, it dissolves into the natural lubrication of the vagina, leaving no trace of a solid object– unlike an IUD.


Now I admit, I used to use VCF, back in my days of carefree, STD-free monogamous sex when birth control pills still cost a small fortune. Nowadays, being in the single category has significantly shifted my perception and opinions on STDs and pregnancy. Which is why I take hormonal birth control pills and use latex condoms, like the Durex Extra Sensitive condoms, every single time.

The Dangers of Vaginal Contraceptive Film (VCF):

The active ingredient in VCF is nonoxynol-9 spermicide, which should set off a red flag for those who have ever experienced the itching, irritation or burning that can be associated with this drug. In some cases, even a rash or a vaginal lesion may appear. The FDA ruled in 2007 that all non-9 product must be relabeled to address these common side effects. After all, who doesn’t want a mysterious rash or lesion in their vagina right after condomless sex?

Speaking of which– not only does non-9 not protect against any STDs, at all, it has been proven by the FDA to actually increase the chances of HIV transmission between sexual partners. Additionally, all bacterial, parasitic and viral STDs are just as likely to be spread/contracted from partner to partner while using the VCF as they are when no barrier method is being used. This provides a sharp contrast to the use of latex condoms as a contraceptive device, which the FDA deems as the best method to protect against HIV and other STDs, besides abstinence.


Another downfall of the VCF is the pregnancy failure rate, which is higher than most other forms of pregnancy prevention. Typical use failure rates are 26%, which means that 26 out of 100 women who use this product will become pregnant, throughout the course of one year. In other words, over a quarter of women who use VCF as their only means of pregnancy prevention will become pregnant.

Condoms like the Trojan Double Ecstasy, on the other hand, provide a 18% failure rate for typical use, according to the CDC. When used correctly, that number dwindles to nearly nothing. To learn more about upping the odds in your favor by keeping your condoms intact check out “Why Do Condoms Break?”

A beneficial characteristic of the VCF is it doesn’t contain hormones, which a lot of people consider to be a good thing, because they may suffer from adverse side effects from the shot or the pill. Or, they have been warned away from hormonal birth control due to the fact that they are a smoker or they tend to get migraines.

I agree that staying away from negative side effects is ideal. However, condoms also do not contain hormones, they have a lower failure rate for unwanted pregnancies, and they also have the unique ability to prevent the transmission of STDs. Therefore, the next time you find yourself in the Family Planning aisle at a big box store, I strongly suggest steering clear of the VCF box, and grabbing a box of condoms instead. Or why not stock up ahead of time for the good times to come with one of our exclusive Condom Sampler Packs?

Source: [CDC, FDA, VCF]

About Condom Depot

The Condom Depot Learning Center provides free safer sex ed and has recently been resourced by Men’s Health, Go Ask Alice, Her Campus, LifeHacker, Scarleteen, Bustle, Madame Noire, Jezebel, Vice, Stallion Style, aPlus, Sex Talk Tuesday and Adult Sex Ed Month.

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