Spermicides are substances with local contraceptive action. They are found in pharmacies in different forms: creams, gels, ovules, pessaries, tablets, tampons, etc. They act by destroying spermatozoa or making them inactive. They must be introduced deeply into the vagina before sexual intercourse. Users should refer to the instructions for use leaflet for each of these as their conditions of use vary depending on whether they are gels or tampons. Their duration of activity varies from a few hours (pessaries, creams) to 24 hours (tampon). Refer to the product leaflet before washing as some soaps neutralise their action. They need to be used before each sexual intercourse.
Spermicides can be used alone in reduced fertility (peri-menopausal period) or alongside another contraceptive method (diaphragm, condom, etc.). When used according to the product leaflet they are only 70% effective and it is strongly recommended that they are used in addition to another contraceptive method if the person absolutely does not wish to become pregnant.