New Delhi: Spermicide condoms are condoms coated with a chemical that kills sperm (spermicide) called nonoxynol-9 (N-9). Dr Uma Vaidyanathan, Senior Consultant, Fortis hospital, Shalimar Bagh shares the information you need to know about this method of birth control.
Condoms are a popular and an effective form of birth control and protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Appropriate use, that is, correct usage during sex and correct storage works in preventing unwanted pregnancies in more than 90 percent of cases.
But when it comes to “spermicide” condoms, although one would think that they would be more effective than routine condoms in preventing unwanted pregnancies and STIs, it’s in fact a misconception!
Spermicides, used repeatedly or in higher doses, can damage the vaginal “epithelium”, i.e. the layers of skin cells that line the vagina. This can lead to local vaginal and penile irritation and skin damage, thus making the woman more susceptible to infection by STIs and due to breaks in the skin, thereby transmitting it to her partner. Higher risk of infection with HIV, Herpes has been observed with repeated use of Nonoxynol 9. Some women have also reported an increased incidence of urinary tract infections with spermicide condoms, probably related to local skin damage.
Spermicide condoms are safe to use during pregnancy. There’s no evidence that spermicides cause birth defects.
To conclude, spermicide condoms are safer for use in couples in a monogamous relationship, where the risk of sexually transmitted infections is minimal, and the sole purpose of protection is to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. Apart from that, considering cost and poor protection against infections, it offers little or no advantage over the routinely available non spermicide coated lubricated/non lubricated condoms.