The Spermicide

This contraceptive neutralizes (alters) spermatozoa. It is strongly advised to use it in combination with another contraceptive method.



Practical effectiveness*: 79%
Theoretical effectiveness**: 84%





Think about it before every sexual intercourse




No protection against STIs

* Practical effectiveness: when measured under conditions of current use (taking into account omissions, failures, etc.)

** Theoretical effectiveness: when observed under conditions of perfect use (without problems of use and without interaction with other medicine)

Source: effectiveness percentages are taken from WHO (2018)  


Spermicides create a chemical barrier by attacking the cell membrane of the sperm. Most spermicides take a little time to work and are only effective for a short time. Therefore, it is important to apply spermicide before each sexual intercourse.

Spermicides exist in many forms: foam, gel, cream, of even pills that dissolve in the vagina. You can always use an applicator to help you insert or inject the spermicide. 

Check to see if the spermicide you are using has expired and if it can be combined with other contraceptive methods (such as latex condoms). 

Don’t rely too much in spermicides. There’s a good chance a sperm will slip through the cracks and survive. For more certainty, combine them with other barrier methods of contraception, such as condoms or diaphragm.



Each spermicide has its own way of working. So read the instructions carefully. Sometimes it comes with an applicator, sometimes not. On average, it takes 10 minutes to half an hour for the product to work. If you don’t have an applicator, remember to clean your hands well before and after applying the spermicide.

If you want to combine the spermicide with a condom (internal/female or external/male), make sure it is compatible with latex or polyurethane which are the two types of products used for condoms. Always put the spermicide (in the vagina) before using the condoms. 



From your pharmacist 

The spermicide is sold between 7 and 20 euros in pharmacy. The CNS does not reimburse this contraceptive. (The price is an average indication which may vary)


  • Available without a prescription, so no need to go to the physician.
  • Suitable for women who do not want a hormonal method or who are still breastfeeding.


  • It is not the most reliable method of contraception. It is strongly recommended to be used in combination with another method.
  • Spermicide does not protect against sexually transmitted infections. Remember to use condoms. 
  • Requires a minimum of skill and attention. Not easy to apply spermicide in a hurry. Remember that it takes a couple of minutes before the spermicide is effective. 
  • It can cause irritation if used frequently (i.e., several times a day).

QUESTIONS Frequentes

Does the spermicide have any side effects?

Spermicide may cause irritation to the vagina or penis. If you feel any discomfort with the spermicide you are using, you should not hesitate to change brands/products. If the vagina is in contact with spermicide several times a day, this may also increase the risks of contracting an STI due to the irritation often caused by spermicide used several times in one day.

Is spermicide toxic?

A spermicide is obviously not toxic to the vaginal, uterine or oral membrane. However, it is not edible because it contains silicone or glycerine. Therefore, avoid contact with spermicide during oral sex.

Remember that spermicide is not effective in protecting against any sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Only condoms are effective against STIs.

Can spermicide also act as a lubricant?

Some spermicides contain a lubricant. You can also combine a spermicide with an oil-free lubricant.

My spermicide has expired. What to do?

Throw it away, don’t use it.

Is it effective?

Spermicide is recognised as the least effective method of contraception according to the WHO (World Health Organisation). Its effectiveness varies between 79 and 84%.  

Can spermicide be used with lubricant?

If spermicide is used with the cervical cap or diaphragm, you can use a water-based or silicone-based lubricant. Any other type of lubricant may damage the cap or diaphragm.