If you have decided to use a barrier contraceptive, you probably have the health benefits in mind. No hormones, no side effects, and eco-friendly - what could be better.
But then comes the spermicide. Most barrier contraceptives must be used with a spermicide or spermicide alternative to seal any gaps and make sure no viable sperm has a chance of seeping into the cervical canal. Lets take a look at some of the ingredients in most traditional spermicides so you can make an educated decision about your spermicide choice. And check out our page on ContraGel, the natural alternatives to spermicide, if you decide that you would rather avoid the chemicals altogether.
Benzalkonium Chloride (Cationic surfactant) Based Spermicides
Benzalkonium chloride (also known as alkyldimethylbenzylammonium chloride and ADBAC) is a mixture of alkylbenzyldimethylammonium chlorides of various even-numbered (alkyl) chain lengths. This product is a nitrogenous cationic surface-acting agent similar to Nonoxynol 9 and Octoxynol-9. ADBAC is most commonly found in vaginal suppositories, vaginal creams and vaginal tablets manufactured in France by Pharmatex. ADBAC is also the active ingredient in Lanzas Contraceptive Cream which is distributed in Spain by Faes Farm S.A.
Octoxynol-9 (Nonionic surfactant) Based Spermicides
Octoxynol-9 (also known as Triton X-100) is made with a different chemical than N-9 but is still a “nonionic surfactant”. Spermicides made with Octoxynol-9 may be good alternatives for people who experience unpleasant reactions or allergies after using Nonoxynol-9. Products which contain Octoxynol-9 include Koromex Cream and Ortho-Gynol Jelly. Unfortunately, these products can be hard to find.
Nonoxynol 9 (Nonionic surfactant) Based Spermicides
Nonoxynol-9 (N-9) is the most common active ingredient in spermicide. Spermicides which contain N-9 come in many forms such as gels, films and foams. Nonosynol-9 is an organic compound that is used as a surfactant and is a member of nonoxynol family of nonionic surfactants. Cleaning and cosmetic products often contain N-9 and related compounds. Because it has been known to cause genital lesions, the use of N-9 is often controversial.
When researchers observed Nonoxynol-9’s ability to kill microbes in vitro, they initially thought it could be used to prevent the transmission of sexual transmitted diseases (STDs). Recent research, however, has found that N-9 might actually increase a person’s risk of contracting STDs, especially when frequently used. Researchers came to this conclusion after noticing that N-9 causes tiny abrasions inside the sensitive vaginal and anal walls.
A Synopsis Of Studies On Nonoxonol-9
The UN sponsored a study in several locations in Africa from 1996-2000. During those four years, researchers followed 1000 sex workers who used Nonoxynol-9 gels or a placebo before engaging in sexual intercourse. The HIV infection rate among the workers that had used N-9 was around 50% higher than those who had used the placebo. The N-9 users also experienced more vaginal lesions than the placebo users, which may have contributed to the higher risk of HIV infection.
While, these results may not apply to those that only use N-9 occasionally, the results of the UN study have led major health agencies to recommend that N-9 no longer be used by women who are at risk of contracting the HIV infection. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), “Nonoxynol-9 offers no protection against sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhoea or chlamydia."
Using Nonoxynol-9 on a regular basis may also increase the risk of contracting human papillomaviruses (HPVs) which are transmitted sexually. This risk is especially serious because HPVs may cause cervical cancer. Researchers at the National Cancer Institute reported that the risk of contracting HPVs from using N-9 was decreased when N-9 was mixed with an equal amount of a carrageenan-based lubricant. Divine No. 9 and BIOglide are two consumer products that were found to prevent detectable HPV infection in the study.
Condoms used with spermicide are believed to be more efficient than those used without. This is only true in certain cases. For example, condoms that are bought pre-lubricated with spermicide don’t actually contain enough spermicide to prevent pregnancy. These spermicide lubricated condoms have a shorter shelf life than normal condoms and may also cause urinary tract infections in women. The WHO no longer promotes this type of condom but recommends using them in place of no condom at all.
Important Consumer Information About N-9 Based Spermicide
Risks Associated With Nonoxonol-9
Although generally uncommon, Nonoxynol-9 has been associated with a number of possible side effects such as irritation, itching or burning of the sex organs in either partner. Women may also experience urinary tract infections, yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis after using N-9. Because these side effects are so infrequent, few women stop using N-9 once they’ve tried it.
The increased risk of birth defects in children conceived despite spermicide use and those whose mother continued using spermicide while unaware of initial pregnancy, has also been a concern associated with N-9 spermicides. Conversely, a review of a large study of spermicides concluded that “there appears to be no increased risk of congenital anomalies, altered sex ratio, or early pregnancy loss among N9 spermicide users. Toxic Shock Syndrome has also been associated with the use of N-9.
Because of its low cost and general effectiveness, health authorities in many different countries have approved the use of N9. However, for women who experience adverse reactions to N9 spermicides, there are many alternatives available.
Gygel - The N9 Based Spermicide
Gygel spermicide is a colorless, odorless spermicidal vaginal gel that contains 2% w/w Nonoxynol-9 (N-9)
N-9 is not capable of preventing pregnancy on its own, except possibly for women with low fertility, those over 50 or women who are currently breastfeeding. The gel should be used in conjunction with barrier methods of contraception such as condoms, diaphragms or cervical caps like FemCap to provide additional protection against pregnancy.
Gygel is the only spermicidal gel in the United Kingdom available without prescription.
Gygel and similar spermicides are often used with a diaphragm. In order to use it correctly, you must spread the gel over the diaphragm’s surface and rim and make sure it comes into contact with the cervix. Keep the diaphragm and spermicidal jelly in place for at least six to eight hours after having sex, and if you have sex again, make sure to re-apply Gygel.
ContraGel: A Natural Alternative To Spermicide
Many couples are prevented from using barrier methods of contraception because of the simple fact that those barriers need an additional component of a spermicidal gel, and many report skin irritations as a result of spermicide usage. The active ingredient in most traditional spermicides, Nonoxynol 9, is a chemical that kills sperm on contact. Not surprisingly, a chemical that kills sperm can also cause unpleasant side effects on intimate areas.
ContraGel is a spermicide alternative that does not contain Nonoxynol 9 at all. Its natural ingredients don't need the overkill of such powerful pharmaceuticals, the barrier is sealed with the ContraGel and the viscosity of the gel and its low pH immobilise the sperm, ensuring no live sperm complete their intended journey.
The 60 gramme tube of ContraGel typically provides 15-20 applications. These numbers are based on the typical requirements of three to four ml applied to diaphragms and cervical caps for each act of intercourse. Additional ContraGel should be applied to the barrier with a finger or vaginal applicator if more then one act of intercourse occurs.
When Are Barriers and Spermicide Are Needed To Prevent Pregnancy?
The goal of barrier contraception is to prevent perm from reaching and fertilizing an egg — but fertilization is biologically impossible unless a viable egg is present
Natural Family Planning (NFP) and Fertility Awareness (FA) identify when there is or is not an egg present, nullifying the need for contraceptives most of the month. Sperm can live inside the womb for up to 5 days, and ovulation releases an egg which is able to be fertilized for one day. That six day span is referred to as the fertility window, and is the only time there is actually a real need for a barrier device.
Cyclotest uses Symptothermal fertility charting to identify that fertility window by using a daily basal body temperature (BBT) reading. Changes in the BBT readings help identify ovulation and form the fertility window.
With 99% reliability, why not let Cyclotest make your contraceptive decisions for you?
Learn more about using Cyclotest to identify your fertility window at our main website EthicalFamilyPlanning.com
Check Out Our Spermicide Available For Immediate Shipping.
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Gygel Nonoxynol-9 Spermicide in the new, large 81g tube is NHS approved for use without prescription. The number 1 spermicide in use in the UK with diaphragm and cervical cap users. For a natural alternative to Gygel take a look at our ContraGel.
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