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You are here : 3-RX.com > Drugs & Medications > Detailed Drug Information (USP DI) > Spermicides

Spermicides (Vaginal)

Description and Brand Names | Before Using | Proper Use | Precautions | Side Effects

  • Contraceptive, vaginal - Benzalkonium Chloride; Nonoxynol 9; Octoxynol 9

Vaginal spermicides are a type of contraceptive (birth control). These products are inserted into the vagina before any genital contact occurs or sexual intercourse begins. They work by damaging and killing sperm in the vagina. Therefore, the sperm are not able to travel from the vagina into the uterus and fallopian tubes, where fertilization usually takes place.

Vaginal spermicides when used alone are much less effective in preventing pregnancy than birth control pills or the IUD or spermicides used with another form of birth control, such as cervical caps, condoms, or diaphragms. Studies have shown that when spermicides are used alone, pregnancy usually occurs in 21 of each 100 women during the first year of spermicide use . The number of pregnancies is reduced when spermicides are used with another method, especially the condom. Discuss with a doctor what your options are for birth control and the risks and benefits of each method.

Laboratory studies have shown that nonoxynol 9 kills or stops the growth of the AIDS virus (HIV) and herpes simplex I and II viruses. It was also shown to be effective against other types of organisms that cause gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, trichomoniasis, and other sexually transmitted diseases (venereal disease, VD, STDs). Benzalkonium chloride also killed the AIDS virus in laboratory studies. Although this has not been proven in human studies, some scientists believe that if spermicides are put into the vagina or on the inside and outside of a latex (rubber) condom, they may kill these germs before they are able to come in contact with the vagina or rectum (lower bowel).

The most effective way to protect yourself against STDs (such as AIDS) is by abstinence (not having sexual intercourse) or by having one partner who you can be sure is not already infected or is not going to get an STD. However, if either of these methods is not likely or possible, using latex (rubber) condoms with a spermicide is the best way of protecting yourself.

The use of a spermicide is recommended even when you are using nonbarrier methods of birth control such as birth control pills (the Pill) or intrauterine devices (IUDs), since these do not offer any protection from STDs.

The safety of using spermicides in the rectum (lower bowel), anus, or rectal area is not known. However, no side effects or problems have been reported that are different from those reported for use in the vagina.

Vaginal spermicides are available without a prescription, in the following dosage forms:

  • Benzalkonium chloride
    • Suppositories (Canada)
  • Nonoxynol 9
    • Cream (U.S. and Canada)
    • Film (U.S.)
    • Foam (U.S. and Canada)
    • Gel (U.S. and Canada)
    • Jelly (U.S.)
    • Suppositories (U.S. and Canada)
  • Octoxynol 9
    • Cream (U.S.)
    • Jelly (U.S. and Canada)

Brand Names

Some commonly used brand names are:

In the U.S. -

  • Advantage 24 2
  • Because 2
  • Conceptrol Contraceptive Inserts 2
  • Conceptrol Gel 2
  • Delfen 2
  • Emko 2
  • Emko Pre-Fil 2
  • Encare 2
  • Gynol II Extra Strength Contraceptive Jelly 2
  • Gynol II Original Formula Contraceptive Jelly 2
  • Koromex Cream 3
  • Koromex Crystal Clear Gel 2
  • Koromex Foam 2
  • Koromex Jelly 2
  • K-Y Plus 2
  • Ortho-Creme 2
  • Ortho-Gynol 3
  • Ramses Crystal Clear Gel 2
  • Semicid 2
  • Shur-Seal 2
  • VCF 2

In Canada -

  • Advantage 24 2
  • Delfen 2
  • Emko 2
  • Encare 2
  • Ortho-Gynol 3
  • Pharmatex 1
  • Ramses Contraceptive Foam 2


For quick reference, the following spermicides are numbered to match the corresponding brand names.

This information applies to the following medicines
1. Benzalkonium Chloride (benz-al-KOE-nee-um KLOR-ide)*
2. Nonoxynol9 (no-NOX-i-nolenine)
3. Octoxynol 9 (awk-TOX-i-nole nine)
* Not commercially available in the U.S.


Next section


Spermicides: Before Using

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