Nishmat's Women’s Health and HalachaIn memory of Chaya Mirel bat R' Avraham

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Efficacy of spermicides and condoms

12 March, 2016

Question:

On your website you state that spermicides are approximately 85 % effective.

Then you mention that condoms are not more effective than spermicides.

On what research is this based?

If I undestand efficacy rates correctly, this would mean that 15 % of women get pregnant within a year if they use only spermicides or condoms.

 


Answer:

Birth control methods have a range of effectiveness, depending on whether they were properly used.

For example, in lab conditions, condoms are 98% effective. However, studies show that  in actual use (in which many people unfortunately use them improperly) the effectiveness rate is approximately 82%. This means that every year, for every 100 couples that use condoms, 18 women will get pregnant.

Spermicide effectiveness rates vary based on the particular form of spermicide. In general, spermicide is not a very effective method, even when used properly. The efficacy rate varies from 71%-85% depending on use. VCF (film) claims up to 94% efficacy in optimal conditions. Due to the lower effectiveness rate of spermicide, we generally suggest it as a backup method (ie, together with a diaphragm, or until birth control pills are effective, or when taking antibiotics while using birth control pills), or for women with reduced fertility (such as those who are exclusively nursing the first six months after childbirth and meet the criteria of the lactational amenorrhea method), or as a short term method.

You can find information on various reliable websites (such as Planned Parenthood, the CDC, American Sexual Health Association, etc.) about the effectiveness of different methods of birth control.

Please feel free to get back to us with any further questions.


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