- Fertility & Reproductive Systems
Vaginal Contraceptive Sponge
The Today Sponge was a popular form of birth control a decade or two ago, but when the manufacturer experienced problems at the plant, production stopped and a whole new generation of American women grew up without having much of as clue as to what a vaginal contraceptive sponge really was. But that's changed now that the Today Sponge is back on the market. While there are several contraception methods that are quite similar in nature, none of them offer protection against pregnancy for quite as long as the sponge does, which allows for greater spontaneity. If that sort of thing appeals to you, keep reading.
What is a Contraceptive Sponge?
When most women hear the word sponge, the first thing that comes to mind is more likely to be that thing you wash dishes with, rather than something you would place in your vagina. Therefore, many women are subconsciously put off by the word itself, their minds conjuring images of a big yellow object. In reality, the Today Sponge is quite small; 1.75 inches in diameter and half an inch thick. This non-hormonal, non-prescription form of birth control contains spermicide (Nonoyxnol-9) and is placed deep inside until it covers the cervix. Once in place, it will prevent pregnancy for up to 24 hours via blocking the sperm's path to the cervix, absorbing sperm and releasing a spermicide.
How do you use it?
The Today Sponge needs to be run under water before insertion. This is very important, so don't skip this step. While soaking it, you squeeze it (gently) several times until it starts to foam. Once foaming it's ready for use. Make sure you don't squeeze it dry! It needs to be both wet and still sudsy to work properly. Once you've placed it over the cervix it will prevent pregnancy for the next 24 hours, and must remain inside 6 hours following intimacy.
Where can I buy it?
Because the Today Sponge was off the market for a bit, it's not widely available yet. You can get it online, though and they cost about 15 dollars for a 3 pack. (And remember, they are not resusable!)
Contraceptive sponges are more effective than other birth control methods, but they are not as effective as The Pill or and IUD. The Today Sponge is approximately 84-89% effective at preventing pregnancy.
Important Info about the Sponge
It does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
They are not reusable.
You must leave the sponge in 6 hours following intimacy, or it may not be effective at preventing pregnancy. If you feel the need to douche, you must wait 6 hours before doing this also.
If you are allergic to sulfites, you should not use this product.
If you are menstruating, you should not use the sponge.
The Sponge should not be left inside for more than 30 hours total.
Although rare, some women have experienced Toxic Shock Syndrome while using The Sponge.