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Washington and Lee University

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Contraceptive Sponge

Background

The modern sponge combines both a barrier as well as spermicide in order to prevent conception. The sponge is concave and shaped like a dimple in order to fit directly over the cervix. The contraceptive sponge lasts for around 24 hours, and it should not be removed until 6 hours after the last time of intercourse.

How to use

  • First, get the sponge a little bit wet and squeeze the water out (do not make it completely dry)
  • With the string hanging below, fold the sides of the sponge upward and push the sponge as deep as possible into the vagina
  • Be careful when inserting the sponge to make sure it covers the cervix
  • For removal, find the string and pull it out very carefully
  • Do not flush it down the toilet, but throw away in a trashcan or other form of disposal

Advantages

  • Is accessible over the counter
  • Does not need to be fitted
  • Lasts for up to 24 hours, allowing individuals to have sex multiple times
  • Single use so it does not require cleaning like the diaphragm or cervical cap
  • Can be disposed of easily

Disadvantages

  • Not as effective as a lot of other methods
  • Spermicide can cause allergies or rashes
  • Does not provide a means to protect against STIs
  • Some studies have shown that it increases the chance of getting HIV

Efficacy

If a woman has never given birth, the chances of the sponge failing are 16% for normal use and 9% if it is used perfectly. If a woman has given birth before, the chances slightly increase to 32% for normal use and to 20% for perfect use.

Availability

The sponge can be found at drugstores or supermarkets for around $1.50 each.