Spermicides (Foam, Film)
What is vaginal contraceptive film/foam?
Vaginal Contraceptive Foam/Film is a highly effective method of birth control. It is a clear spermicidal film or foam that provides protection against pregnancy. When used properly, VCF is quite effective. For it to be most effective, you must use it every time you have intercourse. Combining the VCF film or foam with latex condoms provides added protection from pregnancy.
Is it safe?
Yes. The only side effect reported is mild vaginal irritation like itching or burning. This is not common or dangerous, but if it happens, you should stop using the film or foam.
How is it used?
The film is folded and inserted with your finger deep into the vagina so it is close to the cervix. The cervix is the opening of the uterus which can be felt at the top of the vagina. A plastic applicator is filled with the foam and then inserted into the vagina where it is pushed out of the applicator and covers the cervix. Correct use is very important for protection from pregnancy.
How does the VCF work?
The film or foam contains nonoxynol-9. This ingredient kills sperm.
How much VCF is needed?
One square of film or one applicator of foam should be inserted at least 15 minutes, and not more than three hours, before intercourse. Also, use another application if more than three hours pass before you have intercourse.
Will I or my partner know the VCF is there?
You will not feel the VCF. It quickly melts and is not messy. Your partner will not feel it either. However, it will be even safer if your partner uses a condom when you use the VCF.
Until recently, it was hoped that the spermicide Nonoxynol-9 (N-9) would reduce the risk of STDs, including HIV. But recent studies have shown that N-9 offers no protection against STDs. In fact, using N-9 many times in a day may even increase the risk of infection.
Products containing N-9 should not be used:
- for anal intercourse
- by women at risk for HIV
- many times a day
- to prevent STDs
- by women and men who have allergies to spermicide
Otherwise, products containing N-9 may increase a condom's contraceptive effectiveness.