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.1
  • 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. 
  • You can get spermicide at most pharmacies, drugstores, markets, and grocery stores. 

  • You don’t need a prescription for spermicide.
  • In the United States, the average price for a spermicide kit is $15. The cost may vary depending on where you live.

  • Kaiser Permanente members may be able to get spermicide at low or no cost.2
  • 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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© 2019 Kaiser Permanente

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

2Costs are dependent on your policy terms. For questions about your coverage, please call Member Services or view your benefit coverage documents.