Spermicidals: FSA Eligibility
What are spermicidals?
Spermicidals are also simply called spermicide. Spermicide is a liquid substance containing, most commonly, nonoxynol-9. Nonoxynol-9 is an organic compound that attacks the acrosomal membranes of sperm cells, immobilizing them (Planned Parenthood).
Spermicide is also often contained within condoms, though a World Health Organization study confirmed that there is no detectable benefit in contraception or protection from STIs gained by using condoms with spermicide instead of condoms with standard lubricant.
Spermicides come in several delivery mechanisms such as gels, sprays, foams, and liquids. They are usually designed for vaginal application before sexual intercourse. They can also be found barrier method forms of contraception such as diaphragms, cervical caps, and sponges. They are unscented, clear, non-staining and lubricative (American Pregnancy Association).
Spermicide is designed exclusively to prevent pregnancy by stopping fertilization through the immobilization of sperm. Spermicide should be applied well before sexual intercourse, at least 10 minutes prior, to ensure proper coverage of the vaginal canal. Spermicide is most effect when it can establish barrier coverage over the cervix to prevent sperm from passing through, into the uterus.
Spermicide in condoms have a shorter shelf-life and may cause urinary tract infections in women. Of all forms of birth control, spermicide has one of the highest rates of failure. Effectiveness rates vary between 70% and 80% with proper use. Spermicide is known to cause temporary, minor skin irritation involving the vulva, vagina, and penis. Spermicide use more than twice a day can increase the risk of STI infection, particularly HIV, due to the vulvovaginal epithelial disruption caused by the spermicide.