What is Nonoxynol-9?

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

What is Nonoxynol-9 used to treat?

  • Killing of sperm
Common brands containing Nonoxynol-9:
  • Encare
  • Options Conceptrol
  • Today Sponge
  • VCF Vaginal Contraceptive Film
  • Store Brands (ex. Walmart’s “Equate” store brand or CVS Health store brand)

Safety guide for Nonoxynol-9

Nonoxynol-9 is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is safe. It has been found to be most effective when used as directed. 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.

Ask a Healthcare Provider 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.

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.

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 healthcare provider or the poison control national helpline at 800.222.1222.

What are the side effects of Nonoxynol-9?

  • 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.