Back to Question & Answers

Do spermicides break down condoms?

No, spermicides do not break down condoms. Some condoms even have spermicidal lubricant built into the condom. Spermicide can be used with condoms to further reduce the chance of pregnancy.

Spermicide comes in different forms: creams, jellies, film, and suppositories. They work to stop the sperm from swimming well and act as a barrier to prevent sperm from getting through the cervix to the egg. Spermicide must be used before sex every time you have sex in order to be effective. Each product has instructions on how to use it to make sure the spermicide is as effective as possible. Spermicide is not the most effective form of contraception. On average, about 28 out of 100 people who use spermicide become pregnant every year. Using spermicide alone does not prevent sexually transmitted infections, which is why some people use condoms and spermicide at the same time.

There is risk associated with one specific spermicide ingredient. Nonoxonyl-9 (N-9) is the chemical which prevents sperm from swimming well. N-9 can irritate genital tissue, especially with frequent use. This irritation may increase the risk of HIV and other STIs, both rectally and vaginally. Depending on how often you use spermicide and/or if you or your partner experiences genital irritation after spermicide use, you may consider using spermicides without N-9 or use another form of contraception to avoid irritation.

Feel free to talk to your doctor about what birth control and STI prevention methods might be best for you, or check out¬†Women’s Health Clinic to get birth control information you can trust.