Nonoxynol-9 is a common ingredient found in all spermicide in the United States, according to the Mayo Clinic. Spermicides containing nonoxynol-9 can be used alone or with condoms, cervical caps and other contraceptive methods. Nonoxynol-9 works by damaging and killing sperm, and spermicides that contain it come in a variety of forms. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration deems nonoxynol-9 safe, but both women and men may have allergic reaction to it. Symptoms of allergic reactions can range from mild to severe, including burning, itching, painful irritation and anaphylactic shock.
Mild Allergic Reactions
Both women and men who use spermicide containing nonoxynol-9 can experience mild allergic reactions, although reaction is rare. Only 3 to 5 percent of women report discontinuing use because of side effects. Symptoms of allergic reaction include irritation, genital rash or itching. Sensitivities in women can produce yeast infections and urinary tract infections, as well. If these symptoms occur, stop using the spermicide. Irritation, rash and itching should clear up on their own. Yeast and urinary tract infections can be treated using over the counter or prescription medicines.
Severe Allergic Reactions
Although quite rare, severe allergic reactions may occur from nonoxynol-9 exposure. Genital blistering and swelling, as well as painful irritation and vaginal and rectal abrasions are symptoms of a more severe allergic reaction to nonoxynol-9. These symptoms require medical intervention. Cease use of the spermicide containing nonoxynol-9 and see a physician as soon as possible.
Potentially Fatal Allergic Reactions
Anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction that can be fatal, can occur from nonoxynol-9 exposure, although it is rare. Signs of anaphylaxis include wheezing, tightness of the chest, fever, itching or swelling of face, lips, tongue or throat. If any of these symptoms occur, seek medical treatment immediately because anaphylaxis symptoms can progress quickly into anaphylactic shock, which can be fatal.