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The effectiveness of spermicide is diminished by improper use, employing it without another birth control method, time, and douching. Another thing that may interfere with efficacy is the variety of application methods. It also may be challenging to remember this birth control, which must be used before intercourse and has a several minute waiting period that interferes with spontaneity.
Generally, spermicide is not that effective and prevents pregnancy only 85% of the time if it is used in perfect accordance with the instructions. Since perfection is seldom possible more accurate estimates are provided by a number of family planning agencies. According to these real-world interpretations of risk, about 26% of women get pregnant when they use this method alone.
One of the issues with the effectiveness of spermicide is this extreme error in use. Approximately 42% of pregnancies while women use this method are accounted for by mistakes. These can arise from failing to follow directions, improper placement, using too little, or from a number of other reasons.
Moreover, the diverse array of products can make it difficult to switch back and forth. Each type, like vaginal film, suppositories, foam and jellies, may have completely different directions. People who learn how to use a condom can switch between brands easily, but changing the type of spermicidal product may elevate the chance of human error.
When used as an additional safety measure with diaphragms, condoms or cervical caps, spermicide is very helpful and can reduce the chances of pregnancy. Most family planning experts advise its use in conjunction with another method to provide greater pregnancy protection. As it not intended to be used alone, the absence of a second barrier, like a condom, essentially lowers the effectiveness of spermicide. It is better used as one element in a two-part system.
Time plays an important role in the effectiveness of spermicide in several ways. Women must usually wait 10-15 minutes for this birth control to work. Plus, most spermicides lose their efficacy after an hour. At this point, more must be used to maintain protection.
Failing to leave in the gel, cream, or foam for a full six hours can also create problems. Douching after intercourse is especially discouraged because it undoubtedly reduces the effectiveness of spermicide. Spermicidal products have expiration dates too, and won’t work as well if they’ve expired.
Forgetting to use spermicide on time nullifies its effect. Since it is a method that requires at least a few minutes planning, there is concern that it won’t always be used in moments of impetuosity. The 10-15 minute wait period plus the application time may seem too long, particularly when a person is tired or a rendezvous is impromptu. Some people are natural planners and assume they’ll always have this time to prepare, but others may prefer a more effective method that works continually or is used with greater ease.
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