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Nonoxynol-9 is a spermicidial active ingredient available in over-the-counter (OTC) medicines that helps prevent pregnancy by killing sperm.

Nonoxynol-9 is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is safe and found to be the most effective when used as directed. Vaginal contraceptive products containing nonoxynol-9 do not protect against HIV, AIDS, or other sexually transmitted diseases. If you do not know if you or your partner is HIV-infected, you should choose another form of birth control.

*Nonoxynol-9 may not be contained in all products sold under these brands. Please read the OTC Drug Facts label carefully for active ingredient information for specific products. 

Tips for Vaginal Contraceptives Containing Nonoxynol-9

When using a vaginal contraceptive containing nonoxynol-9, it is important to know that:

  • These products are for vaginal use only and should not be used in the rectum.
  • These products may be used in combination with a latex condom.
  • Vaginal irritation such as burning, itching, or a rash may occur.
  • Frequent use of these products (more than once a day) can lead to vaginal irritation, which may increase the risk of getting sexually transmitted diseases from infected partners.
  • Some cases of Toxic Shock Syndrome have been reported in women using barrier contraceptive products (such as sponges). You should not use a barrier vaginal contraceptive if you have ever had Toxic Shock Syndrome.

Do not use if:

  • You are pregnant or think you might be pregnant.
  • You have given birth within the past six weeks.
  • You or your partner has HIV or AIDS.
  • You are allergic to nonoxynol-9.
  • The product packaging is torn or appears to have been tampered with.

Ask a healthcare professional before use if:

  • You recently had a miscarriage or abortion.
  • You have been told you should not become pregnant.
  • You are breastfeeding.
  • You have a vaginal or uterine condition, such as vaginal septum or uterine prolapse.
  • You have a new sexual partner, multiple partners, or unprotected sex.

Stop use and ask a doctor if:

  • You or your partner experience burning, itching, a rash, or other genital irritation.
  • You or your partner are having difficulty urinating or are experiencing painful urination.
  • You develop abdominal pain, fever, chills, or a foul-smelling vaginal discharge.
  • You become pregnant.
  • You accidentally swallow the product. Immediately contact a doctor or the poison control national helpline at 800.222.1222.

If you have questions about any of the medicines you are taking or if you have any unexpected side effects, talk to a healthcare professional. And of course, keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.

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