The Sponge

In June of 2005 the Today Sponge finally returned to stores in the United States.

How does it work?

Today Sponge combines a spermicide with a barrier contraceptive. It offers an immediate and continuous presence of the spermicide nonoxynol-9 throughout a 24-hour period, allowing for as many acts of intercourse as desired within that period without the need for additional spermicide.

How do I use it?

Learning to use Today Sponge has been compared with learning to use contact lenses. With a little practice, insertion and removal become simple procedures. Following these easy steps will ensure proper placement and usage...

With clean hands, remove Today Sponge from its inner package. Holding the Sponge in one hand with the dimple (concave) side facing upward, and the loop dangling down, wet the sponge thoroughly with clean tap water. Gently squeeze the Sponge to produce amounts of suds. This activates the spermicide and facilitates insertion. Do not be concerned about producing too much suds. There is more than enough spermicide in Today Sponge to provide effective prevention of pregnancy. Fold the sudsy Sponge in half - still with the dimple side facing upward - and insert deeply in the vagina, along the back wall to cover the cervix. The dimple should face the cervix, and the loop should face away from the cervix.

Wait at lease six hours after the last act of intercourse before removing the 'Today Sponge'. Put a finger into the vagina and reach upward to find the string loop. Bear down and push Today Sponge toward to vaginal opening. Hook the finger around the string loop or grasp Today Sponge between thumb and forefinger. Slowly and gently withdraw Today Sponge from the vagina. If the vaginal muscles seem to be holding Today Sponge tightly, wait a few minutes, then try again. While relaxing, breathe out slowly while bearing down and remove 'Today Sponge'.


Today Sponge does not contain hormones. Comfort: generally neither partner can feel the sponge during intercourse. Effective immediately after insertion. Easy to buy: Sold over-the-counter, without a prescription. No special fitting is required. Its small size allows a woman to carry it in her purse. It is disposable after each use. Not as messy as other spermicidal products.


Some women may be allergic to the spermicide -- not common. Does not protect against HIV/AIDS, although may provide some protection from other STDs. Do NOT use during your period. Toxic shock syndrome is not common, but can occur.


The effectiveness for Today Sponge is 89% to 91% (see Today Sponge product labeling). Another measurement of efficacy is the "use-effectiveness" rate, which measures the level of effectiveness that can be expected by a large group of women, some of whom either fail to use the Sponge correctly or do not use it every time they have intercourse. The use-effectiveness rate for the Sponge is 84% to 87% (see Today Sponge product labeling).

Side Effects

Allergy to or irritation from the spermicide in it -- not common. Do NOT use during your period, some cases of toxic shock syndrome have been reported.

On a personal note: I used the sponge for years with a condom when it was still available in the 1980s, before it was removed from shelves in the United States. I thought it was a great product. The sponge looks like this:

Remember: Does not protect against HIV, although the spermicide may provide some protection from other STDs. (HPV has been shown in a laboratory setting to be killed by some spermicides).

Do NOT use the sponge during your period. Toxic shock syndrome is not common, but can occur.



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