Sex E 102 Q&A: Are Spermicides Safe?


My partner has been saying that we dont need to use condoms if we use spermicide since it kills the sperm, is this true? if so what kind of spermicide do you suggest?


First, let my just say that it is ALWAYS safer to use more then one type of protection, and when it comes to sex, I ALWAYS suggest you use condoms to help prevent against not only pregnancy, but STD/STI’s as well.

As for spermicidal lubes, though they do kill sperm, I’m sad to say there isn’t a brand that I would recommend.  Most spermicidal lubes contain a substance called “nonoxynol-9“. For those of you who don’t know what “nonoxynol-9” or N9 is;  N9 is a surfactant that’s used as an ingredient in various cleaning and cosmetic products, it’s also a form of birth control for its spermicidal properties.

I’m sure most of you read that and went wtf is a ‘nonoxynol surfactant’?

Nonoxynols are non-ionic surfactant mixtures varying in the number of repeating ethoxy groups. They’re used as detergents, emulsifiers, wetting agents, de-foaming agents etc. –  taken from Wikipedia

Surfactants are wetting agents that lower the surface tension of a liquid, allowing easier spreading, and lower the interfacial tension between two liquids. Also, Surfactants are usually amphiphilic meaning they have “tails” and “heads”; think of what sperm or a tadpole looks like. If that isn’t clear enough, the best way for me to describe it is to say that surfactants work by disturbing the cell membrane.

**However due to the toxicity of these mixtures they are no longer allowed for anything that can be poured down the drain (think of chemical cleaners) or in laundry detergent. So I can’t pour it down the drain, but I can put it in my vag? are you kidding me?!

To put surfectants into perspective, think of the everyday products that they can be found in like;

  • Detergents
  • Fabric softener
  • Emulsifiers and Emulsions
  • Paints
  • Adhesives
  • Inks
  • Anti-fogging
  • Soil remediation
  • Wetting
  • Ski wax, snowboard wax
  • Deinking (particularly during the enzymatic deinking of used paper during the recycling and repulping process)
  • Foaming agents
  • Defoaming agents
  • Laxatives
  • Agrochemical formulations
  • Herbicides
  • Insecticides
  • Quantum dot coating
  • Biocides (sanitizers)
  • Hair conditioners (after shampoo)
  • Spermicide (nonoxynol-9)
  • Used as an additive in 2.5 gallon fire extinguishers
  • Pipeline, Liquid drag reducing agent
  • Alkali Surfactant Polymers (used to mobilize oil in oil wells)

Anti fogging? inks? snowboard wax? PAINTS? FABRIC SOFTENER? …are you kidding me?! why would anyone want to put an ingredient that’s found in paint or snowboard wax near their vagina!?

As for N9 itself, it was originally thought that it could be used for the prevention of STD’s/STI’s however about 10 years ago it was discovered that spermicides actually INCREASE the chances of contracting infections like HIV by creating lesions on the layers of skin cells in the vagina or rectum walls, which can potentially facilitate infection. **remember what I said above, they “work by disturbing the cell membrane”

Not only that but there are other downfalls or potential dangers to using N9:

  • Nonoxynol-9 offers no protection against sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea or chlamydia.
  • Nonoxynol-9 can damage the cells lining the rectum providing entry for HIV and other STD/STI’s
  • If used regularily Nonoxynol-9 can increase a womans chances of contracting Bacterial Vaginosis
  • If used regularly there are increased chances of developing a yeast infection
  • There have been reports of vaginal bleeding after intercourse due to misuse of spermicides containing Nonoxynol-9
  • Increased chances of vaginal dryness or itching after use of spermicides.

The product is so bad for you that the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) issued a final rule in 2007 that requires manufacturers of spermicidal products containing nonoxynol 9 to post the following warnings to its products; “N9 can irritate the vagina and rectum, which may increase the risk of getting HIV/AIDS from an infected partner

The CDC (Center for Disease Control) conducted their own study to research the effects of N9 and found that it was ineffective in the prevention of STD’s and in fact increased the risk of transmission by 50% *report can be found here: CDC N9 Aids research

As you can see, with all of the above information there is no way that I could recommend such a product to any person at any time.

hope that helped



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