Is Spermicide Safe?

Nonoxynol-9 spermicide can kill the microorganisms that cause STDs, but it may not be safe for everyone to use

Oodles of non-hormonal forms of birth control are available over-the-counter or online, including condoms, sponges, vaginal contraceptive film, jellies and foams, most of which contain the spermicide nonoxynol-9 (N-9). Previously thought to help prevent HIV by killing the microorganisms responsible for transmitting the disease, public officials are now saying that N-9 can actually increase your chances of HIV-transmission, if used improperly. According to a recent NPR report, there are a few things couples should know about N-9 before pulling out the spermicide. In a nutshell, it can be safe and effective, if you follow a few simple guidelines:

  1. Do not use spermicide-coated birth control more than once a day, including condoms
  2. Do not use spermicide for anal intercourse
  3. Do not use spermicide if you currently have multiple partners
  4. Do not use spermicide with a partner who has HIV

Why not? N-9 is a detergent, and much like over washing your favorite T-shirt can cause wear and tear, over-lathering your lady parts with N-9 can erode the cells in your vagina and anus that would naturally protect against STDs. In other words, spermicide if a fine choice for monogamous couples who aren’t likely to have HIV or other STDs -- congratulations you are the 1 percent of the lowest of the low-risk users. But if you’re still playing the field, condoms are still your best bet for safe sex (without N-9 if you do it more than once a day). So, single ladies, wrap it up, before he loves you up!

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