Contraceptive Sponge

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Question

What is a contraceptive sponge?

Answer

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 infection.

Read more about various forms of birth control in our Health Encyclopedia.

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