Vaginal contraceptive sponge

A contraceptive device that is donut-shaped, made of plastic, contains a spermicide (nonoxynol-9) and is inserted into the vagina to cover the cervix. A loop is provided to ease removal.

The sponge protects against contraception for up to 24 hours and for multiple acts of intercourse within this time. It is left in place for at least 6 hours after intercourse.

The sponge should not be left in place more than 30 hours after insertion because of the risk, though low, of toxic shock syndrome (TSS). The symptoms of TSS include sudden fever, stomach upset, a sunburn-like rash, and a drop in blood pressure.

The history of the sponge in the U.S. has been quite unusual. After its introduction, the sponge became the most popular over-the- counter (OTC) contraceptive for women. Aside from the sponge, the only other “woman-controlled” OTC choices were spermicidal foams or suppositories and the female condom. Unlike those options, the sponge could be inserted up to 24 hours before sex and did not require repeat applications for repeated intercourse. Then, in 1995 the sponge was taken off the U.S. market because of manufacturing problems and economic considerations. Women in France, Canada and other countries could still buy vaginal sponges made outside the U.S. The sponge went back on the American market in 2003.

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