(Organic Slant) There are many factors to be considered when deciding on a spermicide including potential side effects, health risks and which form of spermicide will work best with your preferred method of contraceptive barrier.
Spermicide is a substance used for contraceptive that kills sperm. In order to prevent pregnancy effectively, spermicide should be inserted into the the vagina before sexual intercourse.
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.
As a spermicide, it attacks the acrosomal membranes of the sperm, causing the sperm to be immobilized.
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.
In 2000, researchers demonstrated conclusively that Nonoxynol-9 (N-9) was not effective in reducing HIV risk. N-9 products are sold over the counter as contraceptive spermicides, not for the prevention of HIV or other infections. Since N-9 kills HIV in a test tube, research was undertaken in the 1980s and 90s to see if these products would also work for HIV prevention.
The 2000 study data showed that a 52.5 mg. N-9 gel (the lowest dose product on the market) did not protect women from HIV infection. In fact, when used more than once a day, N-9 contraceptive products may actually increase HIV risk slightly by irritating the vaginal membranes and causing disruptions that make it easier for the virus to enter the blood stream. Other studies show that N-9 is even more irritating to rectal tissue than to vaginal tissue.
- The effects of frequent nonoxynol-9 use on the vaginal and cervical mucosa
- Protective effect of a thermoreversible gel against the toxicity of nonoxynol-9
Spermicide Allergy Symptoms
If you’ve recently experienced genital pain or discomfort during sex–and used a spermicide as a form of birth control–you may be allergic to the spermicide. The allergic reactions to spermicide can mimic the allergic reactions to other substances. You may need to undergo allergy testing to determine what is causing the unpleasant reactions.
For many women, intense and nearly immediate burning and itching sensations in the vaginal area are the first signs of a spermicide allergy. Men with a spermicide allergy will experience similar sensations on the penis. You may also experience pain during intercourse and increased general sensitivity in the genital area.
People with a severe allergy to spermicides may experience skin reactions on any part of their body which came into contact with the spermicide, including the genital area and hands. They may experience swelling, a red or pink rash or skin lesions (sores). Some people may also develop hives in areas that may have had direct contact with the spermicide. Repeated exposure to the spermicide can result in tough, leathery skin if you are allergic to it.
A severe allergic reaction can result in difficulty breathing or a sudden and extreme drop in blood pressure, known as anaphylactic shock. This condition is life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention.
Spermicides are often used with other forms of birth control, such as condoms or diaphragms. Condoms and diaphragms are often made out of latex, which is a substance which can create an allergic reaction in some people. Determining whether or not your allergic reaction is to spermicide or latex can help you avoid allergic reactions in the future.
If you find that you are allergic to spermicide, there are alternate forms of birth control available. Some people find that using a spermicide gel with a different chemical make-up or with a lesser percentage of spermicide can prevent an allergic reaction. Others find that they need to avoid spermicide altogether and use a different birth control method, such as the birth control pill or condoms that do not have spermicide included.
Although everyone is urged to use condoms, it’s actually not safe for some people to use them, especially the latex ones. Aside from skin problems like rashes, blotches and sometimes a painful feeling due to the condom’s dryness, many people are allergic to latex condoms. It causes an itching feeling and a skin infection every time they use one. To some, it’s just a very mild thing, so mild that they don’t even really feel the irritation, but some people have severe allergic reactions that calls for immediate medical attention.
Although condoms do go through a strict quality assurance test and are regulated to pass strict compliance, this doesn’t mean that they don’t contain chemicals and substances that could trigger an allergic reaction. Most people are not even aware of their latex allergies and continually use latex condoms. This could cause possible long term side effects and might even damage the reproductive system. Latex allergies are riskier amongst women since the symptoms are not easily seen.
Although latex is the most common material being used in condoms, there are substitutes such as organic condoms and natural rubber condoms which you can buy in most pharmacies and drug stores. The styles and price ranges do vary, depending on what type and brand of condom you get, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Some condom manufacturers have also created a hypoallergenic type of condom which works well as a substitute, but you might want to ask your skin doctor about it first.
Glyde Without Toxic Spermicide
GLYDE condoms are purely plant-based, made from natural rubber latex free from animal by-products and animal testing.
- Organic Flavors: They use organic food grade fruit extracts instead of chemical imitations.
- Fair Trade: Latex rubber is sourced from owner operated plantations. They have a Malaysian manufacturing facility that pays their workers a fair living wage.
- Vegan & Cruelty-Free: These condoms are made without casein (a dairy protein), and instead uses thistle extract in its recipe.