Contraceptive foam is one form of spermicide which, along with creams, gels and suppositories, kills sperm before it reaches your uterus. Contraceptive foam has some side effects that can affect men — and women, too. But the biggest downside of using contraceptive foam on its own is that it doesn’t protect your partner from STDs, HIV or an unplanned pregnancy.
Using a spermicide does have its benefits. You don’t have to rely on your partner to use birth control. Unlike pills, patches, shots and vaginal rings, you suffer none of the adverse side effects of hormone-based birth control methods. Requiring no prescription, spermicide is easily purchased at most drugstores and pharmacies. According to MayoClinic.com, the active ingredient in contraceptive foam and other over-the-counter spermicides is a chemical called nonoxynol-9. Some men may experience irritation of the penis when exposed to spermicides. They may also cause mild to severe genital irritation in you, too.
Adverse Side Effects
One potential side effect of contraceptive foam and other spermicides is that your partner may experience lingering rash, irritation, redness or itching of the genitals. However, MayoClinic.com indicates that this side effect is rare. If your partner has an allergic reaction to the spermicide you use, Planned Parenthood recommends simply changing brands.
The nonoxynol-9 in spermicides won’t protect your partner against sexually transmitted diseases or HIV — and it won’t protect you against disease, either. Planned Parenthood indicates that if you use contraceptive foam frequently, it can irritate your skin and increase the chances that you or your partner will contract HIV or another STD. Contraceptive foam is best used with a barrier method of birth control, such as a male or female condom, which prevents the exchange of body fluids.
The more daunting downside of relying on contraceptive foam as a sole means of birth control is that it isn’t too effective. According to Planned Parenthood, 15 out of every 100 women who use spermicide according to the product’s instructions will get pregnant every year. If starting a family isn’t in your partner’s immediate plans, use contraceptive foam with another form of birth control, such as a male or female condom. Or ask your doctor if you’re a good candidate for a hormone-based method of birth control, such as the pill, patch, ring or shot, which has an effectiveness rate of up to 99 percent.
Spermicide doesn’t affect a man’s fertility or your ability to get pregnant if you stop using it. The complaint your partner might have about contraceptive foam and other spermicides is that they can get messy. Spermicides usually have to be inserted less than 20 minutes every time you have sex, making spontaneous intercourse out of the question. Spermicides also have an unpleasant taste, which can make oral sex far less pleasurable for your partner.