Spermicides are intended to be used in conjunction with some other more positive method of contraception such as a condom, cervical cap or diaphragm to give a few instances. In itself a spermicide offers protection but to a limited degree.
The effectiveness of a spermicide largely depends on the proper use as recommended by the manufacturer.
The spermicide is required to be inserted into the vagina not less than fifteen minutes and not longer than an hour before intercourse. This time frame has been stipulated to enable the spermicide to spread adequately and create a protective barrier. Even post-intercourse, a bath is not advised and the spermicide should be allowed to remain in place in the female body for between six and eight hours. Notwithstanding this advice, the effective life of the spermicide is not rated at beyond one hour.
Spermicides come in a variety of forms such as creams, gels, foams, suppositories and film. All are to be inserted into the opening of the vagina so that they prevent active sperm from entering the uterus and fertilizing an egg. Spermicides contain an ingredient called nonoxymol-9 which is the active agent. Nonoxymol-9 acts by immobilizing the live sperm and then killing it.
A study has been carried out with a 100 couples over a period of one year using solely spermicide as a form of contraception. At the end of the study, 29 percent had become pregnant clearly indicating that the spermicide in isolation cannot be relied upon. It is effective, however, as a back up in event of some accident or failure of the main contraceptive. Spermicides offer no protection against STDs.
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