Contraceptive sponges are found to be more effective for women, who have never given birth. Proper usage is recommended for maximum effectiveness.
As far as contraception is concerned, there are different options to choose from. While some prefer barrier methods like condoms, diaphragm, etc., others go for hormonal ones, like birth control pills and intrauterine devices. Very few resort to abstinence or withdrawal method. If you are among those who opt for barrier methods, then contraceptive sponges can be a good option. As in case of any other method of birth control, the most important factor is the effectiveness of the product.
What is a Contraceptive Sponge?
As the name rightly suggests, a contraceptive sponge is made of soft polyurethane sponge, which has a texture that resembles vaginal tissues. The small, round, disposable device has a thickness of around half an inch, and a diameter of more than 1½ inches. As in case of cervical cap and diaphragm, this sponge too has to be inserted into the vagina. It has a cylindrical depression on one side and a loop on the other. While the indentation is meant for a perfect fit over the cervix, the loop helps in removing the sponge after use. In short, the design of this sponge makes it one of the easy-to-use birth control methods, especially for females.
As mentioned above, a contraceptive sponge is inserted into the vagina, and is placed over the cervix. So it acts as a barrier that prevents entry of sperms into the cervix. Apart from that, this product contains spermicides that are released into the vagina. While some brands can be used directly, others have to be made wet, so as to activate the spermicide. This is applicable for the brand named ‘Today’, whereas other brands like ‘Protectaid’, ‘Pharmatex’, etc., are ready to use. The sponge has to be placed at least 24 hours before intercourse, and should not be removed for six hours after intercourse. Once inserted, the sponge should not be retained for more than 30 hours. Contraceptive sponges are not meant for reuse. This birth control method does not offer any protection against sexually transmitted diseases.
Before choosing a method of contraception, the most important factor that has to be taken into consideration is its effectiveness. As in case of most birth control measures, 100% protection from pregnancy is not guaranteed.
According to the manufacturers, effectiveness of contraceptive sponges ranges between 74% to 99%. However, this range may vary from one brand to another, and the correctness of usage. Proper and correct usage is one of those factors that affects the effectiveness of this sponge. While ‘Today’ sponge is claimed to be 89% to 91% effective, the range for ‘Protectaid’ is 77% to 91%, and ‘Pharmatex’ is said to be 99% effective. According to statistics, nine out of hundred nulliparous (who have never given birth) women, who use the sponge properly, will get pregnant within a year. Sixteen out of hundred such women will get pregnant within a year, if the sponge is used improperly. In case of women, who already have kids, the chances of pregnancy with proper use of contraceptive sponge is 20 out of 100 in a year, and 32 out of 100, if used improperly.
In short, contraceptive sponges are easy to use, and are easily available as over-the-counter products that do not require a physician’s prescription. Those who are allergic to spermicides may experience side effects after using this product. Those who use it regularly are found to be more prone to yeast infections and urinary tract infections. As far as contraceptive sponge effectiveness is concerned, you have to be more cautious. Use this birth control device properly, for maximum effectiveness. It is also advisable to use this product in conjunction with some other products, like condoms.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert advice.