A modern woman controls many processes of her life. One of these processes concerns reliable and effective contraception. Pharmacological companies offer a variety of contraceptive options. Sponge birth control is one of them.
This is a very simple method of protection from the onset of unwanted pregnancy. But what is the probability of conception with this type of contraception? The feedback on the use of the drug is quite contradictive.
Spermicidal contraceptives belong to the category of female contraception. These are chemical agents whose main active substance kills spermatozoa in the first 60 seconds after they enter the vagina. This speed of action is necessary because the spermatozoa have a high mobility. They are able to penetrate the uterus and reach its tubes in 2 minutes. Then only hormonal preparations or emergency contraception can prevent conception.
Usually, gynecologists do not recommend patients to use spermicidal contraceptives as an independent means of protection, since such drugs themselves do not have high effectiveness (about 80% on average). In order to increase their reliability, they are combined with other methods of protection, for example, with hormonal oral medications or condoms (spermicide as a lubricant).
What Is Sponge Birth Control?
Sponge birth control is a combination of mechanical and chemical methods. It prevents the penetration of spermatozoa into the cervical canal and excretes a spermicidal substance.
The contraceptive sponge is the newest contraceptive method. Now it is widely used. Sponge birth control is a squishy porous foam object which is inserted into the vagina before sexual contact. It is made of plastic foam and contains a spermicide that immobilizes sperm as it comes in contact with the sponge.
Each of birth control sponges is impregnated with a cream for convenience in application. If we compare well-known contraceptives, then sponges in appearance and mechanism of action are similar to vaginal contraceptive tampons.
Short History of Sponge Birth Control
The first sponges which were used as a method of contraception were natural. Women of the early centuries already knew this simple and effective method of protection.
The first sponges with a contraceptive effect were made in America in 1983 and immediately reached the peak of popularity. The means had a contraceptive effect up to 24 hours. It was easy to use and had a small number of contraindications. In addition, birth control sponges are all the same size which simplifies the choice.
If the drug is used according to the rules it is possible to achieve contraceptive reliability of 92% in nulliparous women and 80% – in women given birth.
How Does Sponge Birth Control Look Like? How Does It Work?
The birth control sponge is a small round sponge made from soft, squishy plastic. The sponge is usually around 2 inches in diameter and has a nylon loop which is used for an easy removal of the sponge from the vagina.
If you put a sponge birth control correctly the sponge will completely cover the cervix. The sponge is removed by pulling on the loop (not earlier than 6-8 hours after sexual contact).
The sponge should not be reused once it has been removed after sex.
On one hand, each sponge has a contour that covers the cervix if you place it correctly. Thus, sponge birth control blocks sperm from entering the uterus. If sperm penetrates the vagina the sponge absorbs it and kills the spermatozoa by the spermicide contained within the device. So, the chances of conception decrease. On the other hand, sponge birth control has a nylon loop in order to easily remove the sponge from the vagina.
Sponges have a hermetic package to preserve the necessary moisture. They have mechanical and chemical protection from conception. Additional use of spermicidal agents is not necessary. There is no need to reinsert the birth control sponge within 24 hours from the beginning of the use.
In addition to the spermicide, sponge birth control also has a bactericidal effect due to the closure of the cervix from infectious pathogens and the content of a bactericidal substance in the composition of the sponge.
To maintain the contraceptive effect, don’t remove the sponge for 6 hours after the last sexual contact. But do not leave sponge birth control in the vagina for more than 24 hours. If necessary, replace it with another one.
The Advantages of Sponge Birth Control:
- Easy to use.
- Birth control sponges do not cause discomfort during sex. The partner doesn’t feel it.
- Can stay inside the female body for up to 8 hours while maintaining its contraceptive properties.
- Sponge birth control absorbs not only male sperm but any vaginal discharge.
- Protect against the microbes.
- Contraceptive sponges are sold in pharmacies without a prescription and they do not need to be chosen with the help of a doctor.
- Rapid and effective impact.
- Compatible with breastfeeding.
- Additional moisturizing during sexual contact.
- You don’t need additional medical examinations before the use.
- Relatively low contraceptive effectiveness.
- Possible development of thrush.
- Sponge birth control does not protect from sexually transmitted infections and diseases.
- Can cause an allergic reaction, itching, or dryness in the vagina.
- You need to insert the sponge 10 minutes before sexual contact, otherwise the contraceptive effect decreases.
- Birth control sponge is effective only during 24 hours.
How to Use Sponge Birth Control?
Sponges are very easy to use. Here is the instruction:
- First of all, you need to wash your hands.
- Then moisten the sponge with water. 2 spoons of water is enough. Moisture activates protective substances.
- Then squeeze the sponge and insert it inside the vagina, lying on your back.
- Insert the sponge into the vagina and push through the back wall to the cervix.
- The sponge should cover the cervix.
The drug works in two ways:
The sponge covers the cervix and at the same time blocks the sperm from penetrating the uterus.
Also, this drug emits spermicides which keep the sperm from moving.
It is worth remembering that this remedy shouldn’t be inside for longer than 24 hours.
To remove the sponge, gently pull on the loop. Be certain that you pulled it out in one piece. If it is torn, you will need to remove every piece manually. Throw the sponge away after the removal. This contraceptive can only be used once.
Basically, sponge birth control is absolutely safe. Even nursing mothers can use it. But there are some contraindications that you should know about:
- The presence of an allergic reaction to some components of the device.
- Immediately after miscarriage or childbirth.
- With infections of the genital tract.
- If there is a problem with the insertion of the product.
- With physical problems of the vagina.
- If there is an individual intolerance.
- Also, you cannot use sponge birth control during the menstrual cycle.
Possible Side-Effects of Sponge Birth Control
The following side-effects are rare but they still can occur:
- Aching muscles and joints;
- Disorders of the digestive system;
- Weakness and dizziness;
- Temperature increase;
- Vaginal candidiasis;
- The symptoms of cold;
- In very rare cases, there is a risk of anaphylactic shock.