Condoms with spermicide: Do they work?

Do spermicide condoms work? Pros and cons
Bethany Cadman   
by Alan Carter, PharmD
How do spermicide condoms
work? Pros and cons Other options Takeaway
A spermicide condom is a
barrier form of birth control worn on the penis during sexual activity. It is a
thin sheath typically made from latex.

A spermicide condom differs
from other condoms because it is coated with spermicide, a type of chemical
that kills sperm and is designed to prevent sperm from entering the uterus.

How do spermicide condoms

Spermicide usually comes in
the form of a jelly, although it can also be a cream, foam, or gel. The
chemical used in spermicide is typically nonoxynol-9, which works by preventing
the sperm from moving.
When ejaculation occurs, the
sperm will usually start swimming towards the cervix. However, spermicide is
designed to kill the sperm before they reach the uterus and potentially find
their way to an egg.
When used correctly, regular
condoms are 98 percent effective as a form of birth control. However, no
current evidence suggests that spermicide condoms are in fact any more
effective than regular ones.
When considering which form of
contraception to use, it is also useful to know how effective each option is at
preventing sexually transmitted diseases (STIs).
While condoms can
significantly reduce the risk of STIs if used consistently and correctly, there
is no evidence to show that spermicide condoms increase that protection.
In fact, there is some
evidence to suggest that frequent use of spermicides containing nonoxynol-9 may
increase the risk of HIV infection and other STIs.
It is also important to be
aware that using spermicides alone do not offer any protection against STIs and
are considered an ineffective form of birth control.
Pros and cons of spermicide

There are some benefits to
choosing spermicide condoms as a method of contraception, including:

  • They are affordable.
    Spermicide condoms are an inexpensive way to protect from pregnancy and STIs.
  • They are available without a
    Spermicide condoms are available to buy in grocery stores and
  • They are effective. Spermicide
    condoms are an effective birth control method when used consistently and
However, there are also some
negative implications of using spermicide condoms, which people must take into
consideration, such as:

  • They may be a more expensive
    option than regular condoms.
  • They have a shorter expiry
    date than other types of condoms.
  • They may increase a person’s
    risk of getting or transmitting HIV.
  • They may cause an allergic
    reaction in some people and irritate the penis or vagina.
  • Condoms can sometimes slip off
    or break. In this case, a person may require emergency contraception.
If a person does experience an
adverse reaction, such as itching, discomfort, redness or swelling after using
a spermicidal condom, they should talk to a doctor. Eliminating symptoms may be
as simple as switching brands, but a doctor can test for a latex allergy or
other condition.

Common myths about spermicide

Some people worry that using
spermicide condoms or any form of spermicide can cause congenital medical
conditions if they do get pregnant. There is no evidence to suggest this.
It is also a myth that
spermicides can harm a breast-fed infant. Spermicides do not enter breast milk
nor affect breast milk production, so it is safe to use spermicide condoms
while breastfeeding.
Other options for STI and
pregnancy protection

Spermicide condoms are not for
everyone, and there are many different types of birth control available. Each
method has a different level of effectiveness and other pros and cons, so the
choice depends on the individual.
Other options for preventing
pregnancy include:

  • Intrauterine device (IUD): A
    small plastic or copper coil inserted into a woman’s womb that stops the sperm
    or egg surviving. IUDs do not protect against STIs.
  • Birth control implant: A small
    tube inserted into the arm that stops eggs from being released. An implant
    lasts for up to 3 years but does not protect against STIs.
  • Vaginal ring (NuvaRing): A
    small plastic ring is inserted into the vagina and lasts up to 21 days. The
    vaginal ring alone does not prevent STIs.
  • The contraceptive injection:
    There is a range of contraceptive injections that last for various lengths of
    time. The injection contains progestogen, which can prevent the release of an
    egg and stop sperm from reaching it. The contraceptive injection does not
    prevent STIs.
  • Birth control pill: There are
    many different versions of the contraceptive pill that are effective at preventing
    pregnancy if taken correctly. Birth control pills do not prevent STIs.
  • The sponge: The contraceptive
    sponge is worn inside the vagina and prevents sperm from entering the cervix
    using a barrier and spermicide. It does not protect against STIs.
  • A diaphragm: A diaphragm is
    inserted into the vagina, so it covers the cervix and blocks sperm from
    entering. Wearing a diaphragm alone will not prevent STI’s.
  • Emergency contraception:
    Sometimes called the morning after pill, emergency contraception works by preventing
    or delaying the release of an egg.
The female condom is worn
inside the vagina and prevents sperm from entering the cervix. When worn
correctly, it can protect against STIs, in much the same way as condoms that
are worn on the penis.
Every type of birth control
method has positives and negatives. A person’s lifestyle, personal preference,
and overall health can all help determine which kind of birth control and STI
protection suits them best.


Spermicide condoms are an
effective method of birth control and STI protection providing they are worn
and used correctly. However, there is no evidence that spermicide condoms are
better at providing birth control or STI protection than condoms without
Spermicide condoms are
inexpensive, but may still cost more than regular condoms and also have a
shorter shelf life. It is also possible that frequently using spermicide
condoms and other spermicide products may the increase the risk of disease
Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.