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The sponge was first introduced to the public in 1994. It quickly became a very popular form of birth control. It was even made famous by an episode of Seinfeld in which Elaine questioned if her partners were “sponge-worthy.” Since that time, the sponge has fluctuated in availability and popularity. However, it is a reasonably effective birth control method with a faithful following.
The contraceptive sponge is a soft, round piece of plastic foam with a handle attached. It is filled with the spermicide known as nonoxynol-9 (N-9). The sponge is inserted deep into the vagina before intercourse.
The sponge works in two ways. First, it physically blocks sperm from fertilizing an egg by covering the cervix. It also continually releases spermicide to kill sperm.
The birth control sponge is available over the counter. You can find it at drugstores or health care centers. To use the sponge:
To remove the sponge:
Do not flush your sponge down the toilet. Do not reuse a sponge.
The efficacy of the sponge depends on how well you use it and whether or not you’ve given birth. According to Planned Parenthood, the failure rate is:
To improve the effectiveness of the sponge, ask your partner to pull out before ejaculating. He can also use a condom as added protection.
The sponge is a very convenient form of birth control for women. Benefits of the sponge include:
The sponge also has a number of disadvantages, including:
If the sponge breaks when you are trying to remove it, and you can’t get all the pieces, you need to visit a doctor. Left in place, there is a risk of infection.
The sponge is associated with a slightly increased risk for toxic shock syndrome (TSS). This condition causes fever, shock, and potential organ damage. This risk can be reduced by following the instructions on the sponge. You should never leave the sponge in for more than 30 hours. You should not use it if you have any vaginal bleeding.
If you have any signs of TSS, call your doctor. Signs of TSS include:
In addition, the sponge should not be used if you:
Written by: the Healthline Editorial Team
Published on: Jul 09, 2014on: Dec 08, 2016
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