Skip to main navigation Skip to main content Skip to footer For Medicare For Providers For Brokers For Employers Español For Individuals & Families: For Individuals & Families Medical Dental Other Supplemental Explore coverage through work How to Buy Health Insurance Types of Dental Insurance Open Enrollment vs. Special Enrollment See all topics Shop for Medicare plans Member Guide Find a Doctor Log in to myCigna
Home Knowledge Center Wellness Library Contraceptive Sponge for Birth Control

Contraceptive Sponge for Birth Control


The sponge is used to prevent pregnancy. It is called a barrier method because it keeps the sperm and eggs apart. The sponge also contains a spermicide, which kills the sperm or stops the sperm from moving.

The sponge fits inside your vagina and covers the cervix, which is the opening of the uterus. After you place the sponge, you have protection for up to 24 hours. You must leave the sponge in place for 6 hours after vaginal sex. Don't leave it in for more than a total of 30 hours.

How well does it work?

How well the sponge works depends on whether you have ever delivered a child vaginally or not.

  • If you have had a vaginal childbirth:
    • When the sponge is used exactly as directed, it is about 80% effective for preventing pregnancy. This means that about 20 out of 100 people who use it will have an unplanned pregnancy. When it is not used exactly as directed, it is about 73% effective. This means that about 27 out of 100 people who use it will have an unplanned pregnancy.footnote 1
  • If you have not had a vaginal childbirth:
    • When the sponge is used exactly as directed, it is about 91% effective for preventing pregnancy. This means that about 9 out of 100 people who use it will have an unplanned pregnancy. When it is not used exactly as directed, it is about 86% effective. This means that about 14 out of 100 people who use it will have an unplanned pregnancy. footnote 1

There is less chance of getting pregnant if you and your partner use an external (male) condom with the sponge.

Be sure to tell your doctor about any health problems you have or medicines you take. Your doctor can help you choose the birth control method that is right for you.

What are the advantages of using the sponge for birth control?

  • The sponge is available without a prescription at family planning clinics, in drugstores, online, and in some grocery stores.
  • The sponge doesn't use hormones. So you can use the sponge if you don't want to take hormones or can't take hormones because you have certain health problems or concerns.
  • The sponge is safe to use while breastfeeding.
  • It doesn't affect your menstrual cycle.
  • It costs less than hormonal types of birth control.
  • The sponge can be inserted up to 24 hours ahead of time so you don't have to interrupt sex.

What are the disadvantages of using the sponge for birth control?

  • The sponge doesn't prevent pregnancy as well as IUDs or hormonal forms of birth control.
  • It prevents pregnancy only if you use it every time you have intercourse.
  • The sponge doesn't protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as herpes or HIV. If you're not sure whether your sex partner might have an STI, use a condom to protect against infection.
  • The spermicide in a sponge may cause an allergic reaction. It can cause itching or sores in the vagina or on the penis.
  • You may have to interrupt sex to insert the sponge.
  • You may not be comfortable with inserting the sponge each time you have intercourse.
  • You cannot use the sponge during your period.



  1. Trussell J, Aiken ARA (2018). Contraceptive efficacy. In RA Hatcher et al., eds., Contraceptive Technology, p. 844. New York: Ayer Company Publishers, Inc.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

© 1995-2023 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

<cipublic-spinner variant="large"><span>Loading…</span></cipublic-spinner>

Page Footer

I want to...

Get an ID card File a claim View my claims and EOBs Check coverage under my plan See prescription drug list Find an in-network doctor, dentist, or facility Find a form Find 1095-B tax form information View the Cigna Glossary Contact Cigna


Individuals and Families Medicare Employers Brokers Providers

Secure Member Sites

myCigna member portal Health Care Provider portal Cigna for Employers Client Resource Portal Cigna for Brokers

The Cigna Group Information

About The Cigna Group Company Profile Careers Newsroom Investors Suppliers The Cigna Group Third Party Administrators International Evernorth

 Cigna. All rights reserved.

Privacy Legal Product Disclosures Cigna Company Names Customer Rights Accessibility Non-Discrimination Notice Language Assistance [PDF] Report Fraud Sitemap


Individual and family medical and dental insurance plans are insured by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (CHLIC), Cigna HealthCare of Arizona, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Illinois, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Georgia, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of North Carolina, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of South Carolina, Inc., and Cigna HealthCare of Texas, Inc. Group health insurance and health benefit plans are insured or administered by CHLIC, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (CGLIC), or their affiliates (see a listing of the legal entities that insure or administer group HMO, dental HMO, and other products or services in your state). Accidental Injury, Critical Illness, and Hospital Care plans or insurance policies are distributed exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, are administered by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, and are insured by either (i) Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (Bloomfield, CT); (ii) Life Insurance Company of North America (“LINA”) (Philadelphia, PA); or (iii) New York Life Group Insurance Company of NY (“NYLGICNY”) (New York, NY), formerly known as Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. The Cigna name, logo, and other Cigna marks are owned by Cigna Intellectual Property, Inc. LINA and NYLGICNY are not affiliates of Cigna.

All insurance policies and group benefit plans contain exclusions and limitations. For availability, costs and complete details of coverage, contact a licensed agent or Cigna sales representative. This website is not intended for residents of New Mexico.

Selecting these links will take you away from to another website, which may be a non-Cigna website. Cigna may not control the content or links of non-Cigna websites. Details