The Cleveland Clinic

Your Guide to Birth Control: Spermicides

Birth control is a way for men and women to prevent pregnancy. There are many different methods of birth control; some types also protect against sexually transmitted diseases .

Spermicides are foams, jellies, tablets, or suppositories used by women to prevent pregnancy. Chemicals within the spermicide destroy the sperm, preventing it from implanting an egg. Spermicides may also help prevent STDs.

How Effective Are Spermicides?

Although spermicides in the foam or jelly form can be used alone, they are more effective when combined with a condom or diaphragm. Spermicide used alone is 79% effective, but when used together and properly, foam and condoms are about 97% effective in preventing pregnancy.

Does Contraceptive Foam Protect Against Sexually Transmitted Diseases?

Contraceptive foam may not protect against some sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV (the virus that causes AIDS). There is some data that contraceptive foam may cause irritation of the vaginal lining, allowing for easier transmission of HIV and other STDs.

Abstinence is the most effective way to prevent STDs and HIV.

However, for those individuals choosing to have sexual intercourse, condoms provide the best protection from most STDs. Contraceptive foam may not add protection against STDs, but may help prevent pregnancy when a condom breaks or spills.