Contraceptive Technology and Reproductive Health Series: Home Page Contraceptive Technology and Reproductive Health Series Back to FHI Website
Barrier Methods
Introduction Contents Post-Test References Go To Presenter Info


Section 1
Section 2

- Information
- Objectives
- Male Condom
- Properties
- Latex
- Plastic
- Correct Use
- Breakage
- Behaviors
- Cautions
- Protection
- Female
- Characteristics
- Use
> Spermicides
- Characteristics
- Correct Use
- Preferences
- Diaphragm
- Characteristics
- Considerations
- Correct Use
- Fitting
- Follow-up
- Sponge
- New Methods

Section 3


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Section 2 - Method Information


Examples of Spermicides and delivery bases

Slide 25

We will now discuss spermicides, which are chemical barriers. For thousands of years, women have put materials ranging from rags to herbal preparations into the vagina in an effort to prevent pregnancy. Modern science built on this approach and developed products that are proven to kill sperm.

Spermicides consist of two components, a spermicidal chemical and a delivery base for the chemical. The base can be a cream, jelly, foam, film, suppository or tablet. The spermicidal chemicals most often used today are nonoxynol-9 (N-9), menfegol and benzalkonium chloride (BZK). Comparative data on the relative effectiveness of different delivery systems or chemical formulations are scarce. Most research has been done using N-9 since it is the most common spermicide in the world.

The spermicidal agent kills sperm and STD microorganisms. Most spermicides are surfactants, which means they act on the membrane of the sperm or microorganism. In addition, some of the delivery bases physically block the cervix to prevent sperm and microorganisms from moving into the woman’s uterus, providing a secondary mode of action.

Spermicides can be used alone or with another contraceptive method. They are available without prescription in most countries, but may be expensive.



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