Health Guide
Drug Guide

Spermicide (Vaginal route)

Brand Names:

Dosage Forms:

Uses of This Medicine:

Vaginal spermicides are a type of contraceptive (birth control). These products are inserted into the vagina before any genital contact occurs or sexual intercourse begins. They work by damaging and killing sperm in the vagina. Therefore, the sperm are not able to travel from the vagina into the uterus and fallopian tubes, where fertilization takes place.

Vaginal spermicides, when used alone, are much less effective in preventing pregnancy than birth control pills, an intrauterine device (IUD), or spermicides used together with another form of birth control, such as cervical caps, condoms, or diaphragms. Studies have shown that when spermicides are used alone, pregnancy usually occurs in 21 of each 100 women during the first year of spermicide use. The number of pregnancies is reduced when spermicides are used with another method, especially the condom. Discuss with your doctor what your options are for birth control and the risks and benefits of each method.

The most effective way to protect yourself against HIV (AIDS) and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) is by abstinence (not having sexual intercourse) or by having only one partner who you can be sure is not already infected or is not going to get an STD. However, if either of these methods is not likely or possible, using latex (rubber) condoms with a spermicide is the best way of protecting yourself.

The use of a spermicide is recommended even when you are using nonbarrier methods of birth control, such as birth control pills (the pill) or intrauterine devices (IUDs), since these do not offer any protection from STDs.

Vaginal spermicides are available without a prescription.

Before Using This Medicine:


Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to medicines in this group or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.


These products have been used by teenagers and have not been shown to cause different side effects or problems than they do in adults. However, some younger users may need extra counseling and information on the importance of using spermicides exactly as they are supposed to be used so they will work properly.


Many studies have shown that the use of vaginal spermicides does not increase the risk of birth defects or miscarriage.


It is not known if vaginal spermicides pass into breast milk in humans. However, their use has not been reported to cause problems in nursing babies.

Other medicines

Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. Tell your healthcare professional if you are taking any other prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicine.

Other interactions

Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.

Other medical problems

The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of medicines in this class. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:

If you develop any medical problem or begin using any new medicine (prescription or nonprescription) while you are using this medicine, you may want to check with your doctor.

Proper Use of This Medicine:

Make sure you carefully read and follow the directions that come with each spermicide product. Each product may have different directions for using the product. The directions tell you how much to use, how long you must wait before having intercourse, and how long you must leave it in the vagina after intercourse.

Spermicide products are for vaginal use only and are not for rectal (anal) use.

Vaginal douching is not needed or advised after using these medicines. When using a spermicide, douching within 6 to 8 hours after the last sexual intercourse (even with just water) may stop the spermicide from working properly. Also, washing or rinsing the vaginal or rectal area may wash the spermicide away before it has had time to work properly.

Cervical caps and diaphragms are not recommended for use during your menstrual period because of an increased chance of developing toxic shock syndrome. Your doctor may advise you to use condoms with a spermicide instead during your menstrual periods when protection is needed.

For proper use of spermicide when used alone:

For proper use of spermicide with cervical caps, condoms, or diaphragms:

For patients using spermicides with a cervical cap:

For patients using spermicides with condoms

For patients using spermicides with a diaphragm:


The dose medicines in this class will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of these medicines. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.


Keep out of the reach of children.

Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.

Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.

Precautions While Using This Medicine:

Do not use this medicine if you or your sex partner have HIV or AIDS. This medicine can irritate the vagina and rectum, which may increase the risk of getting HIV or AIDS. Discuss this with your doctor if you have any questions.

This medicine will not protect you from getting HIV or AIDS, or other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). If this is a concern for you, discuss this with your doctor.

If you have a rash or burning, itching, or other irritation of the genitals, discontinue use of the spermicide and contact your doctor. .

Side Effects of This Medicine:

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:

Signs of toxic shock syndrome for cervical caps or diaphragms
muscle aches
sunburn-like skin rash that is followed by peeling of the skin
unusual redness of the inside of the nose, mouth, throat, vagina, or eyelids

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

For females and males
Skin rash, redness, irritation, or itching that does not go away within a short period of time
For females only
Cloudy or bloody urine
increased frequency of urination
pain in the bladder or lower abdomen
thick, white, or curd-like vaginal discharge with use of cervical caps or diaphragms only
vaginal irritation, redness, rash, dryness, or whitish discharge

Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

Less common
Vaginal discharge (temporary) with use of creams, foams, and suppositories
vaginal dryness or odor

Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Last Updated: 10/12/2016

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