nonoxynol-9 vaginal

Medically Reviewed on 12/8/2022

Generic Name: nonoxynol-9 vaginal

Brand Names: Conceptrol Options, VCF, Gynol II Extra Strength, Encare, Today Vaginal Contraceptive

Drug Class: Spermicides

What is nonoxynol-9 vaginal, and what is it used for?

Nonoxynol-9 vaginal is a spermicide used vaginally to prevent pregnancy, usually in combination with other modes of contraception.

Nonoxynol-9 is available over the counter (OTC) in several forms such as gels, foams, inserts, films, and sponges that are applied or placed in the vagina. Nonoxynol-9 works as a locally acting spermicide during intercourse and kills the sperm in the vagina, without producing any systemic effects.

Nonoxynol-9 is a chemical compound that reduces surface tension (surfactant). Nonoxynol-9 acts on the surface of the sperm and damages its cell membrane, thereby immobilizing, inactivating and killing the sperm. Most nonoxynol-9 products are required to be used before each act of intercourse and remain effective locally, usually for an hour. Some of the nonoxynol-9 products such as the vaginal sponge also work as barrier contraceptives.

Nonoxynol-9 has a higher failure rate than other contraception methods, and does not provide protection against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or other sexually transmitted diseases. Nonoxynol-9 should ideally be used along with vaginal diaphragms or male latex condoms for more effective contraception. Proper use of condoms reduces the risk of HIV transmission, although, it does not completely eliminate the risk.


  • Do not use nonoxynol-9 products if you are hypersensitive to any of the components in the products.
  • Do not use vaginal sponge:
    • If you are allergic to sulfites; vaginal sponge contains metabisulfate
    • During menstrual periods
    • Within 6 weeks after giving birth
  • Do not use nonoxynol-9 if your partner has or you have HIV/AIDS. Nonoxynol-9 may cause vaginal irritation, or may adversely affect lactobacillus, disrupting the vaginal lining and causing ulceration, both of which can increase the risk of HIV transmission.
  • Do not use nonoxynol-9 if you have chronic or recurrent bacterial vaginosis.
  • Do not use vaginal sponge without consulting your healthcare provider if you have had a recent miscarriage or abortion.
  • Do not use vaginal sponge if you have conditions such as vaginal septum or uterine prolapse which may affect its efficacy.
  • There have been rare and sometimes fatal reports of toxic shock syndrome (TSS), with the use of barrier contraceptives, including vaginal sponge. If you experience symptoms such as fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain, dizziness, faintness, or a sunburn-like rash on face or body, remove the sponge and seek medical help immediately.
  • Nonxynol-9 is for vaginal use only. Rectal use can cause irritation and increase the risk for HIV transmission.


Which of the following are methods for contraception? See Answer

What are the side effects of nonoxynol-9 vaginal?

Common side effects of nonoxynol-9 vaginal include:

Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms or serious side effects while using this drug:

This is not a complete list of all side effects or adverse reactions that may occur from the use of this drug. Call your doctor for medical advice about serious side effects or adverse reactions. You may also report side effects or health problems to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What are the dosages of nonoxynol-9 vaginal?

Vaginal Gel

  • 3% (Gynol II Extra Strength)
  • 4% (Conceptrol Options; VCF prefilled applicator)

Vaginal Foam

  • 12.5% (VCF foam)

Vaginal Insert

  • 100 mg (Encare)

Vaginal Sponge

  • 1000 mg (Today Vaginal Contraceptive)

Vaginal Film

  • 28% (VCF film)



Gel or foam

  • Insert one applicator full into the vagina prior to intercourse (see complete, illustrated directions on the package insert)
  • An additional applicator full is required prior to each act of intercourse, regardless of time since last application
  • Each applicator full is effective immediately and up to 1 hour after application

Sponge (Today Vaginal Contraceptive)

  • Wet the sponge thoroughly with clean water, squeeze gently until the sponge is very sudsy
  • With the dimple side inside, fold the sponge
  • With string loop on bottom end, insert the sponge deep into the vagina (see diagram in the enclosed leaflet)
  • Protection begins right away and lasts for 24 hours even with repeated acts of intercourse
  • Wait 6 hours after last intercourse before removing sponge
  • Do not leave sponge in the vagina for longer than 30 hours
  • Do not reuse the sponge
  • Contact your physician if you have problems removing the sponge

Film (VCF)

  • Before using this product, read the enclosed package insert for complete directions and information
  • Be sure your fingers are dry before touching the film
  • Insert one film and place as far into the vagina as possible against the cervix
  • Insert not less than 15 minutes and not more than 3 hours before intercourse
  • Use 1 film before each act of intercourse

What drugs interact with nonoxynol-9 vaginal?

Inform your doctor of all medications you are currently taking, who can advise you on any possible drug interactions. Never begin taking, suddenly discontinue, or change the dosage of any medication without your doctor’s recommendation.

  • Nonoxynol-9 vaginal has no listed severe, serious, moderate, or mild interactions with other drugs.

The drug interactions listed above are not all of the possible interactions or adverse effects. For more information on drug interactions, visit the RxList Drug Interaction Checker.

It is important to always tell your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider of all prescription and over-the-counter medications you use, as well as the dosage for each, and keep a list of the information. Check with your doctor or health care provider if you have any questions about the medication.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

  • The rate of unintended pregnancies with the use of nonxynol-9 products is generally higher than with other methods of contraception. Consistent and correct use of male latex condom can reduce the risk of unintended pregnancy, and also the transmission of human immunodeficiency virus and other sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Spermicide use has not been associated with birth defects.
  • Nonoxynol-9 is safe to use by nursing mothers.

What else should I know about nonoxynol-9 vaginal?

  • Consult with your healthcare provider regarding the best form of birth control that suits your requirements.
  • Use nonoxynol-9 products exactly as per the label instructions in each product.
  • Always wait for at least 6 hours after intercourse before douching to maintain vaginal contraception with nonoxynol-9.
  • Discontinue nonoxynol-9 if burning, itching, rash, or other irritation of the vagina or penis occurs.
  • Store safely out of reach of children.

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Nonoxynol-9 vaginal is a spermicide used vaginally as a gel, foam, insert, film, or sponge to prevent pregnancy, usually in combination with other modes of contraception. The rate of unintended pregnancies with the use of nonxynol-9 products is generally higher than with other methods of contraception. Common side effects of nonoxynol-9 vaginal include local reactions in the penis or vagina (burning, irritation, rash, itching) and allergic contact dermatitis. Do not use while on menstrual period or if breastfeeding.

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Medically Reviewed on 12/8/2022