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 Spermicide for Birth Control

Spermicide for Birth Control


Spermicide is used to prevent pregnancy. It kills sperm or stops sperm from moving. For it to work well, you must use spermicide each time you have sexual intercourse.

Spermicide comes in creams, film, foams, gels, and suppositories. You insert the spermicide into your vagina. Spermicide can be used alone but it is usually used with a barrier method of birth control, such as a male condom.

How well does it work?

Spermicide used alone does not protect you very well. But even if you use it on its own, it is still better than not using any birth control.

In the first year of use:

  • When spermicide is used exactly as directed, 18 women out of 100 have an unplanned pregnancy. When it is not used exactly as directed, 28 women out of 100 have an unplanned pregnancy.
  • When spermicide is used with another type of birth control, it works better. For example, when spermicide and a diaphragm are used exactly as directed, 6 women out of 100 have an unplanned pregnancy. When they are not used exactly as directed, 12 women out of 100 have an unplanned pregnancy.

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

How do you use spermicide for birth control?

Spermicide comes in many different forms. Be sure to read the instructions that come with it.

  • Some spermicides come with an applicator. Use it to insert the spermicide right before sex.
  • If you're using film or suppositories, wait at least 15 minutes before you have sex. This allows the spermicide to spread in the vagina.
  • Use 1 application of spermicide for each act of sexual intercourse.
  • Don't douche for at least 8 hours after sex. Give the spermicide time to work to prevent pregnancy.

If you think you used spermicide incorrectly, you can use emergency contraception to help prevent pregnancy. The most effective emergency contraception is an IUD (inserted by a doctor). You can also get emergency contraceptive pills. You can get them with a prescription from your doctor or without a prescription at most drugstores.

What are the advantages of using spermicide for birth control?

  • Spermicide doesn't use hormones. So you can use it if you don't want to take hormones or can't take hormones.
  • It is available without a prescription. You can buy it at family planning clinics, drugstores, online, and in some grocery stores.
  • It is safe to use while breastfeeding.
  • It doesn't affect your menstrual cycle.
  • It costs less than hormonal types of birth control.

What are the disadvantages of using spermicide for birth control?

  • Spermicide doesn't prevent pregnancy as well as other forms of birth control.
  • It prevents pregnancy only if you use it every time you have sex.
  • Spermicide may cause an allergic reaction. It can cause itching or sores in the vagina or on the penis.
  • Spermicide doesn't protect against STIs. These are sexually transmitted infections such as herpes or HIV. Use a condom if you're not sure if your sex partner might have an STI.
  • You may have to interrupt sex to insert the spermicide.
  • You may not feel good about using spermicide each time you have sex.
  • You may find it messy to use.

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