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Advantages & Disadvantages of Foam Contraceptives

author image Therese Pope
Therese Pope is a copywriter and marketing consultant for her own business, Zenful Communications. Her public health nonprofit background, coupled with her writing background, led her to write about the health and wellness industry. Pope was a blogger for and currently writes a variety of SEO Web content. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from California State University, Chico.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Foam Contraceptives
A woman in the bathroom reads the instructions for a foam contraceptive. Photo Credit: diego cervo/iStock/Getty Images

Foam contraceptives are spermicides inserted inside a woman's vagina before sexual intercourse. They are used to kill sperm and prevent sperm from reaching the egg. Foam contraceptives can be effective if used properly (according to the product's instructions). Most foam contraceptives are also used with condoms to reduce the risk of pregnancy. For women who cannot take hormone-based birth control for health reasons, this is a less risky contraceptive method.

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Easily Accessible and Inexpensive

Foam contraceptives are easily accessible and can be bought over the counter in drugstores. They are inexpensive compared to birth control pills, Depo Provera and other forms of birth control. Women don't need a prescription or doctor's permission to buy foam spermicides.

Hormone-Free and Works Immediately

Foam contraceptives are both safe and effective. Women don't have to worry about the side effects of hormones (hormones aren't used). Unlike other forms of birth control, women don't have to wait for hours for it to take effect. The foam starts working 20 minutes after it is inserted inside the vagina. Women who are breastfeeding can also use foam contraceptives, because they are hormone-free.


A common complaint against foam contraceptives is vaginal irritation and infections. Some women experience allergic reactions to spermicidal foams which can cause burning, redness or itchiness. Some women experience discomfort when inserting the applicator inside their vagina. Women who have sensitive skin shouldn't use foam contraceptives.

Doesn't Protect Against HIV and STDs

Foam contraceptives don't protect against HIV or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Foam spermicides should be used with a condom to decrease the risk of these diseases. When using condoms with foam spermicides, check expiration dates on condoms and don't re-use condoms.


If you experience any allergic reactions to foam contraceptives, discontinue using them immediately. Ask a gynecologist or doctor about alternative birth control methods and options. Foam contraceptives used with condoms are 95 percent effective and are 80 percent effective when used without condoms, according to the University of Iowa Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

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