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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1997 Jun 17;816:451-6.

Anti-STD vaginal contraceptive sponges.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Crete, Heraklion, Greece.



Vaginal sponges offer women control over protection against both pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV. Spermicide-impregnated sponges combine the actions of a physical barrier that blocks the cervix with a material that absorbs the ejaculate and a spermicide. Commercially available spermicides contain 1-5% of nonoxynol-9, shown to inhibit organisms responsible for gonorrhea, chlamydia, candidiasis, genital herpes, syphilis, trichomoniasis, and HIV. On the other hand, nonoxynol-9 is associated with a significantly higher risk of vaginal colonization with bacterial agents, ulcerative genital diseases, and vulvitis. A lower dose of nonoxynol-9 appears to avert vaginal irritation without compromising contraceptive efficacy. Use of chlorhexidene, a spermicide less irritating to mucosal cells than nonoxynol-9 but active against HIV in vivo and in vitro, is under investigation. Also promising are initial findings regarding the Protectaid contraceptive sponge with F-5 gel. Epidemiologic studies and clinical trials should provide quantitative estimates of the level of protection offered by barrier methods and identify the method that combines the highest protection, ease of use, and user acceptability.

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