Thursday, October 29, 2009

Q & A: "Is there evidence that condoms which are lubricated with spermicide are any better at preventing pregnancy than condoms which are not?"

Q. A contraceptive "failure" rate of ~12% per year has been
cited for couples using condoms alone. For this reason, use of an
additional method (spermicide, diaphragm, etc.) has been
recommended in addition to condoms. Is there evidence that
condoms which are lubricated with spermicide are any better at
preventing pregnancy than condoms which are not? Is the use of a
back-up method still recommended/necessary?
-- JE

A. The contraceptive failure rate for condoms that you
quoted is consistent with what we know. And it is true
that when a spermicidal foam or jelly is used for lubrication (as
opposed to a simple lubricant such as K-Y Jelly and others) that
the risk of pregnancy is even less. Some data suggest the
contraceptive effectiveness rises to about 96% when both are
used.

In addition, there is some evidence that contraceptive foams or
jellies may also reduce the transmission of infectious organisms
such as HIV, chlamydia, herpes simplex, and possibly the human
papillomavirus (the cause of venereal warts). This is an
unintended (and unreliable) but fortunate benefit.

If condoms are your main source of contraception, the addition of
spermicidal foam or jelly will decrease your risk of unintended
pregnancy.

-- R. Jandl

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