Though spermicide was once thought to protect against HIV, public health officials now know that it can actually increase a person’s risk of contracting HIV.
Spermicide is a substance that contains chemicals, such as nonoxynol-9, that is put into the vagina prior to sexual intercourse to immobilize/kill sperm before it enters the uterus. Dozens of condoms, vaginal films, jellies, foams and sponges containing the N-9 spermicide are available online or at local pharmacies without a doctor’s prescription.
N-9 is actually very effective at killing the microorganisms that cause sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia, gonorrhea and HIV. There’s just one small problem – it also irritates the cells that line the vagina and rectum, making them more vulnerable to attack those same viruses and bacteria. Basically, spermicide erodes the cells that are present to help protect against these diseases.
However, the impact of N-9 on the vaginal cell wall appears to be dose-related, according to a study by the World Health Organization. Small infrequent doses of N-9 (once a day or less) appear to cause little or no disruption of the cell wall, whereas more frequent, larger doses consistently cause damage.
Ok, so, spermicides clearly do not protect us from STDs like HIV, but what about from unwanted pregnancy?
Yes, spermicides can be used alone to prevent pregnancy, but they are much more effective when combined with a condom or diaphragm. Spermicides used alone are about 70-80 percent effective, but when used together and properly, spermicides and condoms are about 97 percent effective in preventing pregnancy.
The verdict: the risks certainly outweigh the benefits, so Condom Depot advises you to skip using spermicide completely, and stick with a good, old fashioned lubricated condom. Plus, a recent study reveals that condoms can actually help beneficial bacteria in the vagina flourish. What more do you really need?
PLEASE NOTE: The only time Condom Depot recommends using a condom lubricated with N-9 is when that is the only form of contraception available.
Sources: Mayo Clinic