Traditional Spermicides and Spermicide Alternatives
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 Contraceptive Gel 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 Contraceptive Gel is the only spermicidal gel in the United Kingdom available without prescription.
Gygel Contraceptive Gel comes in a 30ml aluminum tube that provides approximately 10, 3ml applications, which tends to be the average consumption per month. A vaginal applicator screwed onto the neck of the Gygel tube draws the gel out in a clean efficient manner so it can be easily inserted into the vagina. The applicator is optional and sold separately.
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.
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.
- NHS Approved For Use Without Prescription
- Totally Hormone Free
- Instantly Reversible Contraception.
- Must Be Used With A Barrier Contraceptive
- New Larger 81g Tube
Price (Inc. VAT): £19.50