Chemical contraceptives

Chemical contraceptives are available in the form of suppositories (ovules), tablets, spermicidal gels or creams. They all contain substances (called spermicides) that kill the sperm cells or if not that, at least hamper their ability to move. Chemical contraceptives are inserted into the vagina before sexual intercourse (suppositories and tablets take at least 10 minutes before they melt due to body heat and become fully effective). The active spermicidal substances are only sufficient for one ejaculation.



Easy to use, readily available. Can be used only when needed.


Unpleasant sensations can occur in the vagina or on the limb itself (feeling of warmth, burning sensation) (in which case, another preparation might suit you better).
The "waiting time" of 10 minutes and the necessity of repeated application can be perceived as annoying. The chemical agents are partially absorbed into the body through the vagina. A permanently damaging effect on the body has not been established so far. However, local damage to the vaginal mucous membranes or vaginal inflammation is possible and must then be treated by a doctor.


The use of chemical contraceptives alone is very unsafe and therefore not recommended. They should always be combined with only one diaphragm. The simultaneous use of chemical contraceptives and condoms is not recommended.


Chemical substances can be bought without a doctor's prescription in pharmacies and drugstores.


There are different price ranges (approx. Euro 3,- to 15,-) depending on the type of product, package size and application period.

Contraceptive gels and creams should always be used along with a barrier method (Diaphragm or Contraceptive cap). Unlike most foam suppositories, they do not include latex into surgery. Spermicidal gels are available in different compositions:

Products based on lactic acid or citric acid

reduce sperm motility (citric acid) or make sperm immobile (lactic acid). Preparations containing nonoxinol attack the sperm heads and thus render them unable to fertilise (spermicide). Another product contains the active ingredient benzalkonium chloride. The substance has a spermicidal effect and is used as a preservative in other areas of application. We do not currently have any scientific knowledge about side effects and health risks.

A study has shown that the contraceptive safety of the diaphragm with spermicide-free gel is the same as that of a nonoxinol-containing gel. Therefore, this application can be recommended without apprehension.

Products that have the base of lactic acid or citric acid

have fewer side effects than preparations containing nonoxynol. They can have a positive effect on women undergoing frequent fungal infections.

Some women experience a feeling of warmth and/or an unpleasant burning sensation after the introduction of the product, caused by irritation of the mucous membrane with products that contain nonoxinol (and rarely with other products). Some women report increased irritability and vulnerability to injury of the vaginal mucosa when used frequently. The chemicals used can also trigger allergic reactions. This holds applicable to both women and men.

Spermicidal gels do not provide effective protection against sexually transmitted diseases. According to a United Nations (UN) study, women who use chemical contraceptives containing the active ingredient nonoxinol-9 are much more likely to be infected with HIV.


The gel containing lactic acid can easily be ordered on the Internet. There are several suppliers. Sometimes pharmacies have exclusive practice in the sale of diaphragms and gels. The production of spermicidal gel with the active ingredient Nonoxiinol-9 was discontinued in Germany. However, it can still be obtained via the Internet.

Lactic acid-based spermicidal gel / not a pharmacy-only medicine

  • Contragel grün®
  • Caya Gel®

Spermicidal gel with the active substance benzalkonium chloride /prescription-only

  • Pharmatex Gel ®

Spermicidal gel with the active ingredient Nonoxinol-9, 2% / prescription-only

  • Gynol II ® 


The preparations cost between 10.50 and 12.50 € per 100g, products with benzalkonium chloride and Gynol II cost over 30 € per 100g.

Personal counselling

If you want to know more or have questions, please contact a doctor or a pro familia counselling centre.

Doctors, social workers, psychologists and pedagogues shall be at your disposal as contact persons.

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