Contraceptive Sponge

1 What is a Contraceptive Sponge?

The contraceptive sponge is a means of birth control (contraceptive) that acts as a barrier to prevent the entry of sperm into the uterus.

It is made out of polyurethane foam and is soft and disk-shaped. The contraceptive sponge also contains spermicide, which blocks or kills sperm.

Before engaging in sex, you insert the sponge deep into the vagina to that it completely covers the cervix. Your vaginal muscles will hold it in place.

The contraceptive sponge also has a strap on one side for easy removal. Only one type of contraceptive sponge (Today sponge) has Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in the United States.

2 Reasons for Procedure

Here are the most common reasons for a contraceptive sponge procedure.

The contraceptive sponge can be acquired over-the-counter and:

  • Does not require a prescription or fitting.
  • Can be inserted immediately or up to 24 hours before sex.
  • Provides protection from pregnancy for up to 24 hours.
  • Can be used as a backup method of birth control.
  • Does not require a partner’s cooperation.

The contraceptive sponge is not the best device for everyone. There are several contraceptive options and you can discuss with your doctor which one best suits you.

Your health care provider may not make a recommendation of a contraceptive sponge for the following reasons: If you are sensitive or allergic to spermicide or polyurethane.

If you have a vaginal abnormality that has an effect on the fitting of the contraceptive sponge. If you have frequent urinary tract infections. If you have a history of toxic shock syndrome.

If you recently gave birth, had a miscarriage or had an abortion. If you are at a high risk of contracting HIV or you have HIV or AIDS.

If you are at a high risk of pregnancy, provide you are younger than 30 years, have sex three or more times a week, you have had a previous contraceptive failure with a vaginal barrier method or you are not likely to use the contraceptive sponge as regularly.

3 Potential Risks

Contraceptive sponge procedure is accompanied by various potential risks, including:

Approximately 12 out of 100 women who have never given birth will get pregnant during the first year of typical use of a contraceptive sponge.

An estimate of 24 out of 100 women who have given birth before will get pregnant after a year of typical use of the contraceptive sponge.

The contraceptive sponge does not offer any protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Together with the spermicide it releases, a contraceptive sponge can lead to the following:

  • Vaginal irritation or dryness.
  • Infection of the urinary tract.
  • Vaginal infection.
  • An increased risk of contracting STIs.
  • Toxic shock syndrome.

4 Preparing for your Procedure

In order preparing to use a contraceptive sponge, you must make sure that you read the product instructions carefully or talk to your health care provider.

It is vital that you apply another method of contraception, such as a male condom or oral contraceptives when you begin using the contraceptive sponge.

This makes the contraception more effective.

5 What to Expect

Read on to learn more about what to expect before, during, and after your contraceptive sponge procedure.

In order to make use of the contraceptive sponge, you will need to do the following:

Remove the sponge from its package.

Make it moist with about two tablespoons (30 milliliters) of clean water and squeeze it gently until the sponge is sudsy. The spermicide inside is activated by the water.

Put in the contraceptive sponge. A comfortable position, such as squatting with your legs slightly spread apart will be quite helpful in the process of insertion.

Separate your labia with one hand, and hold the contraceptive sponge with the other with the strap facing down and the dimple facing up.

Proceed to fold the straps of the contraceptive sponge upward. Point the folded contraceptive sponge toward your vagina and with the use of one or two fingers, slide the sponge into your vagina as far up as it will go.

You must be cautious not to push your fingernail through the contraceptive while inserting it. Check the placement of the contraceptive sponge.

Slide your finger around the edge of the contraceptive sponge to ensure your cervix is properly covered. Leave the contraceptive sponge on for at least six hours before sex.

Do not, however, live it longer than 24 hours to reduce the risk of an infection. Remove the contraceptive sponge from your vagina. You must pull the strap gently.

If you cannot find it, bear down or grasp the contraceptive sponge between your thumb and fingernail and pull.

If the muscles of your vagina are still holding on tightly to your contraceptive sponge, wait a few minutes and try again.

Slip a finger between your contraceptive sponge and cervix on one side to break the suction. You must be careful not to push your fingernail through the contraceptive sponge while attempting to remove it.

Be sure to check the contraceptive sponge for any tearing. If there is evidence of tearing, run a finger around the upper part of your vagina to sweep out any remaining pieces of sponge.

Get rid of the used sponge. You must never reuse a contraceptive sponge. When discarding it, place the used sponge in the trash. Never flush a contraceptive sponge down the toilet.

Do not use a contraceptive sponge during your period. Douching is not also recommended. If you douche, you must wait for a period no less than six hours after sex to avoid washing away spermicide. 

Avoid douching while the contraceptive sponge is in your vagina.

Contact your health care provider if you:

  • Have signs and symptoms of toxic shock syndrome, such as sudden high fever, diarrhea, dizziness, vomiting, fainting or a rash that looks like sunburn.
  • Have trouble removing the contraceptive sponge or only part of it.

6 Procedure Results

If you do not understand your contraceptive sponge procedure results, consult with your doctor.

The contraceptive sponge can prevent pregnancy but cannot prevent you from contracting sexually transmitted infections.