Pros and Cons of Condoms Lubricated with Spermicide

Condom. Photo: Photodisc / Getty Images

Condoms with spermicidal lube used to be a pretty common option for safe sex. However, that began to change once people started to become aware of the potential dangers of nonoxynol-9 (N-9) use. N-9 is the most common commercially available spermicide, and use is associated with an increased risk of a number of STDs, including herpes and HIV.

Evaluating the Pros and Cons of Condoms with Spermicidal Lube

Price :

Average. Spermicidally-lubricated condoms don't cost more than other condoms.

Ease of Acquisition :

Condoms with spermicidal lube are available at most drug stores and online

Use During Vaginal Intercourse :

The only time when condoms with spermicidal lubricant might be considered to have an advantage over other condoms is for monogamous heterosexual couples who are more concerned about pregnancy than STDs. Otherwise, there's no reason to choose condoms with spermicidal lube over condoms with non-spermicidal lube. For that matter, there's also no benefit over using unlubricated condoms with your preferred lubricant.

Use During Oral Sex :

Condoms with spermicidal lubricant are particularly bad for oral sex. Nonoxynol-9 not only can make your tongue go numb... it tastes horrible!

Use During Anal Sex :

Nonoxynol-9 may cause damage to the rectal lining that could increase the likelihood of transmitting HIV or another infection.

Condoms without N-9 are probably a better idea for anal sex.

The Verdict:

Spermicidally lubricated condoms are, most often, latex condoms lubricated with nonoxynol-9. Although spermicide should increase the contraceptive efficacy of the condom, that may be offset by the disadvantages of a spermicidal personal lubricant.

There is evidence that use -- particularly frequent use -- of spermicidal lubricant containing N-9 may actually increase a person's susceptibility to STDs. Because of this, few sex educators will recommend use of spermicidally lubricated condoms.


Cone RA, Hoen T, Wong X, Abusuwwa R, Anderson DJ, Moench TR. Vaginal microbicides: detecting toxicities in vivo that paradoxically increase pathogen transmission. BMC Infect Dis. 2006 Jun 1;6:90.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Nonoxynol-9 spermicide contraception use--United States, 1999. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2002 May 10;51(18):389-92.

Food and Drug Administration, HHS. (2007) "Over-the-counter vaginal contraceptive and spermicide drug products containing nonoxynol 9; required labeling. Final rule." Fed Regist. 2007 Dec 19;72(243):71769-85.

Mansergh G, Marks G, Rader M, Colfax GN, Buchbinder S. Rectal use of nonoxynol-9 among men who have sex with men. AIDS. 2003 Apr 11;17(6):905-9.

Continue Reading