Least effective type of birth control
Does not protect from STIs
No prescription needed
May irritate the skin of the vagina
Can be used with other methods
More About the Sponge
The sponge is a small, dish-shaped foam pad full of spermicide (a chemical that kills sperm) that is put into the vagina to cover the cervix (the opening to the uterus). The sponge has a fabric loop attached to make it easier for it to be taken out.
- It is more effective for people who have not given birth.
- It must be put in the right way – it needs to cover the cervix (the opening of the uterus) in order to work.
How to Use the Sponge
- Wet the sponge with clean hands.
- Gently squeeze to release the spermicide.
- Fold the sponge in half with dimple side facing up.
- Put the sponge as far into vagina as fingers can reach.
- The sponge will open on its own and cover the cervix (the opening of the uterus).
- Touch the edges to make sure it’s in place. You should be able to feel the nylon loop.
- Don’t leave the sponge in for more than a total of 30 hours. You can put the sponge in up to 24 hours before sex and must leave it in at least 6 hours after sex.
Use at least two tablespoons of water to wet the sponge, then gently squeeze to release the spermicide. Fold the sponge with the dimple facing up and put into the vagina as far as your fingers can reach.
- 86% effective with typical use for people who have never given birth. 73% effective for people who have given birth. Typical use includes use of a spermicide with the sponge.
- You can improve effectiveness by using it with another method, such as condoms or withdrawal.
- The sponge is less effective if you have ever given birth. You can talk to your provider about finding a method that works better for you.
- Can be used with other methods, like condoms
- Small and easy to carry with you
- Can be put in up to 24 hours before sex, so it does not need to interrupt the heat of the moment
- Most people don’t notice it’s there during sex.
- Easy to get without a prescription.
Side Effects and Limitations
- Does not protect from STIs.
- It can be tricky to put it in, and the spermicide can be messy.
- Some people say it makes them dry during sex. Using lube can help with this.
- It can cause vaginal irritation.
- In very rare cases, can cause Toxic Shock Syndrome – a serious bacterial infection.
- It can’t be used during your period.
- If you’re allergic to sulfa drugs, polyurethane, or spermicide, you shouldn’t use the sponge. Talk to your Family PACT provider about other methods that may work for you.
- The sponge is not reusable.
Family PACT Coverage
If you are eligible, Family PACT covers the cost of the sponge. A Family PACT provider can help you decide if the sponge is the best choice for you. You can search for a Family PACT provider near you by clicking on the “Find Providers” button in the top right hand corner of this page.