What is a contraceptive sponge?
A contraceptive sponge (Today« Sponge) is a birth control device that's inserted deep into the vagina before intercourse. It contains a spermicide, which kills sperm, as well as nonoxynol-9, which slows down sperm and helps prevent them from fertilizing the female egg. The sponge protects against pregnancy for up to 24 hours, no matter how many times you have intercourse. You must leave it in place for at least six hours but no longer than 30 hours after intercourse. You can use it with other birth control methods, such as condoms, foam, and birth control pills.
Contraceptive sponge effectiveness
Studies show that the sponge is 89 to 91% effective in preventing pregnancy when used according to the product instructions. Since it has not been proven effective in helping prevent sexually transmitted diseases you should also protect yourself with a condom.
Common side effects of the contraceptive sponge
Some people report side effects like reactions to nonoxynol-9 that include irritation of the
vagina or penis, soreness, itching and burning. If these effects continue after you remove the
sponge, see your health care provider. Less common reactions to nonoxynol-9 include painful or
difficult urination. The risk for toxic shock syndrome with the contraceptive sponge is small-
only 1 case per 2 million sponges used. But, if you have had toxic shock syndrome in the past,
you should not use the sponge. Also, do not use the sponge if you have had reactions to the
nonoxynol-9 in past. Do not use the sponge if you currently have any vaginal or yeast
Read more about various forms of birth control in our Health Encyclopedia.
If you're looking for more specific answers to specific questions, ask a Walgreens pharmacist here.