Spermicide icon


  • 71% effective
  • Put it in before sex
  • No prescription required
  • No hormones
  • No STI/STD protection
  • Inexpensive


What is it?
  • Spermicide is a chemical that you put deep inside the vagina before sex to prevent pregnancy.

  • Spermicide comes in many different forms, including a cream, gel, film, or tablet.

  • Spermicide can be used with a diaphragm or condom for extra protection against pregnancy. 

  • Using spermicide perfectly is hard. As a result, spermicide is about 71% effective in preventing pregnancy.*
How it works
  • Spermicide has a chemical that slows down sperm so it can’t reach an egg. 

  • Spermicide prevents pregnancy by:

    • Blocking the entrance to the cervix so sperm can’t reach the egg.

    • Stopping sperm from moving so they can’t swim to the egg. 
How to get it
  • You can get spermicide at most pharmacies, drugstores, markets, and grocery stores. 

  • You don’t need a prescription for spermicide.
  • Because of the Affordable Care Act, Kaiser Permanente members can get certain types of birth control methods at low or no cost. Check with Member Services or your provider for details.
How to use it
  • There are many types of spermicide, so read the instructions on the package.

  • Some spermicides are effective for only 1 to 2 hours or need to be put in the vagina a certain amount of time before sex. Check the label before use. 

  • With your fingers, put spermicide deep into the vagina before having sex.
  • Apply it every time you have sex to prevent pregnancy.
  • You can use it with other birth control methods, like condoms or diaphragms, for extra protection against pregnancy.

  • It’s easy to use.

  • You don’t need to see a doctor or get a prescription.

  • It’s available at most drugstores and pharmacies. It can be used by people with a latex allergy.
  • Spermicide is less effective than many other forms of birth control. It works best when it’s combined with condoms or a diaphragm. 

  • You have to use it every time.

  • Some spermicides only last for an hour after you insert them.

  • It doesn’t protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs/STDs), including HIV. Overuse of spermicide can increase your risk of contracting these infections.

  • Spermicides can increase your risk for a urinary tract infection.

  • Spermicide can be irritating, and some people are allergic to it. 


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© 2020 Kaiser Permanente

*“Spermicide,” Planned Parenthood, plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/spermicide/how-effective-spermicide, accessed August 13, 2019.