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The Sponge

A small, round piece of foam that goes in the vagina and blocks sperm from fertilizing an egg.


The sponge is a round piece of white plastic foam. It's pretty small—just two inches across—and a woman inserts it into her vagina before having sex.


The sponge works in two ways: It blocks the cervix to keep sperm from getting into the uterus, and it continuously releases spermicide.


The sponge is between 76% and 88% effective. Note: When we talk about effectiveness we mean typical use numbers or what happens when couples used this method of birth control prettywell; it accounts for human errors and occasional contraceptive failure. BUT, teenagers are often not as careful as older people in using these methods, so real typical use rates for teens may be a little worse than what you see here. Keep that in mind as you're looking at the options and remember that for birth control to be effective, you have to use it consistently and correctly every single time.


  • Completely private.
  • No visit to a health care professional required.
  • Non-hormonal.


  • Some women are uncomfortable inserting the sponge.
  • If you’re allergic to spermicide, you should avoid the sponge.
  • No STI protection (it’s a good idea to double up with a second method like a male/female condom if you’re using the sponge as your primary method). 

Note: Not every woman experiences these drawbacks—they are just some of the ones that are commonly reported. Talk to your medical provider to learn more and keep in mind that if this method doesn’t work for you, there are LOTS more out there…but it’s best to wait at least six months to see if things get better before you decide to switch. If they don’t, or if you just can’t deal with them, talk with your medical provider about finding something that works for you.


Nope; because it’s a non-hormonal method, you don’t need a medical provider to prescribe the sponge. You can buy the sponge online and in some real stores.


Back to Birth Control Explorer

Teenagers sitting on a tree limb

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