It’s bad enough when your favorite brand of ice cream goes off the market. It’s even worse if that happens with something as personal as your birth control device. Many women’s chosen birth control method is contraceptive foam. Back in 1995, a marketing decision took its toll on women who used the Today Sponge, an over-the-counter birth control product, used by women since 1983. The Today Sponge went off the market for four years, and legend had it, according to CNN, that women who used the sponge started hoarding them when the devices became scarce and would only use one if it was really going to be worth it.
The Today Sponge went back on the market in 1999, and as of 2010, it is still being sold. Showing a sense of humor, this company has the “spongeworthy” game as a feature of its website, where players can fantasize about the celebrity of their dreams. If you intend to do more than simply fantasizing, know that you can use a sponge or any type of contraceptive foam as your method of birth control.
How it Works
Contraceptive foam, inserts and jellies all work the same way. They use chemicals called spermicides that kill sperm, according to the University of Iowa Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Women place these devices in their vagina before intercourse to prevent pregnancies. These devices work by killing the sperm and by being a barrier to the sperm entering the uterus.
Spermicides are about 80 percent effective, according to the University of Iowa. You can get foams that require an applicator or ones that use a manual method, such as the sponge. With some of these devices, you need to wait around 10 minutes before the product becomes effective. Others are effective immediately upon insertion. Some products are only effective for about an hour after insertion, while others last 24 hours. Follow the directions on the specific product you purchase.
Women use spermicides if they cannot or do not want to take hormonal contraceptives, such as birth control pills. Women who are sensitive to the latex in condoms often choose spermicides, too. Once women get the hang of using them, they find contraceptive foams to be easy to use and convenient to carry around. Used with a condom, they provide a back-up should the condom break.
Be aware that just because spermicides kill sperm, they will not cure or prevent any type of sexually transmitted disease, according to the University of Iowa. Also, the risk of getting pregnant, at 20 percent, is higher than it is with some other birth control methods. Some contraceptive foams require insertion at the time of intercourse, which can be inconvenient. Spermicides can also irritate a woman’s vagina or a man’s penis. Some spermicides are messy, too.
- woman image by Mat Hayward from Fotolia.com