What Works/What Doesn’t

Preventing Pregnancy



A woman inserts a spermicide available in foams, films, creams, jellies, or suppositories–deep into the vagina before sex to kill sperm before they can reach an egg.

Success Rate

With typical use, 29 women in 100 (29%) become pregnant in one year. With perfect use 18 women in 100 (18%) will become pregnant in one year.

The Perks

You can buy it at any drugstore without a prescription; it can provide lubrication for sex.

Drag Factor

Doesn’t protect against STDs including HIV. Some spermicides such as nonoxynol-9 have been found to irritate the vaginal walls making some more susceptible to STD and HIV infection. Follow the directions carefully: this may mean waiting a while to have sex until after inserting the spermicide so that it can dissolve and spread. You must insert more spermicide each time you have sex.

How To Get It

At drugstores and supermarkets. The cost is $9 to $12 for the spermicide and applicator; refills cost $4 to $8.

Condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are the ONLY method that protects sexually active people from both STDs and pregnancy.