The Sponge is a soft plastic (polyurethane) sponge that is worn in the vagina during sex. It is moistened with water and inserted into the woman’s vagina before having sex.

How does it work to prevent pregnancy?
Spermicide (sperm-killing medicine) in the sponge kills the sperm, and the egg is not fertilized. The sponge also absorbs semen and sperm, and physically blocks the cervix. To be effective, it must be left in the vagina for at least 6 hours after intercourse

How effective is it in preventing pregnancy?
16 to 32 out of 100 couples will have a pregnancy in the first year. Women who already have had a baby have a higher chance of pregnancy with the sponge. It may be that the sponge can cover the cervix better if the woman has not yet delivered a child.

How effective is it in preventing STDs?
NOT effective at all! The sponge may irritate the vagina and actually make it a little easier to get HIV, if a female is exposed. If a person has sex, condoms must ALSO be used to reduce the risk of STDs and HIV.

Other Things to Know about the SPONGE:


  • No prescription is needed
  • The woman can use it without a male partner’s knowledge
  • It is effective for 24 hours
  • It can be kept in and used for repeated acts of intercourse


  • It must be left in the vagina 6 hours after having sex
  • It should not be left in the vagina for more than 30 hours
  • Requires that the woman is comfortable inserting something in herself vaginally
  • Rare side effects (Toxic Shock Syndrome)

Acknowledgement: This fact sheet was adapted from, and, websites that provide education about reproductive and sexual health. 

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