Barrier Methods of Birth Control

How does it work?

  • Small, soft foam sponge is inserted into the vagina to cover the cervix
  • Must be moistened with water to activate spermicide that kills sperm
  • Helps prevent the sperm from reaching the cervix
  • Can be inserted any time before sex
  • Must not be left in the vagina for more than 30 hours total and must stay in place for at least 6 hours after last intercourse
  • Read instructions that come with package


  • 68-91% effective
  • No need to see a doctor or health care provider
  • Non latex
  • May be used for more than one act of intercourse without adding more spermicide
  • Available at pharmacies, grocery stores
  • One size fits all women


  • No protection against STIs, including HIV
  • Spermicide may cause some irritation, therefore increasing risk of HIV or STIs, if exposed
  • If left in the vagina for more than 30 hours, may lead to toxic shock syndrome
  • Cannot be used during menstrual period
  • Woman must be comfortable with insertion and removal
  • Increased risk of bladder and yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis