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What is the Today Sponge?

The Today Sponge (which is often just called “the sponge”) is a hormone-free birth control method that does not require a prescription. It is a soft white sponge with a small indentation on both sides. The sponge acts like a barrier to prevent sperm from swimming through the cervix into the uterus. The spermicide in the sponge also kills sperm.

The sponge is pre-soaked in spermicide, which is activated by water. It has a polyester loop attached, so it can be removed easily. To use the sponge, run it under a light stream of water, and then squish it between your fingers until it gets sudsy. Then fold it in half and insert it deep into the vagina until it rests against the cervix.

The sponge can be inside the vagina for up to 24 hours and must be left in place for at least six hours after intercourse. If it is not, sperm can still enter through the cervix and fertilize an egg.

The Today Sponge is effective between 80 to 91 percent of the time, if used perfectly. With typical use, it is 76 to 88 percent effective. If a couple uses a condom plus the sponge, they will be protected against both sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unplanned pregnancy at a very high effectiveness rate.

Today Sponge Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Doesn’t require a doctor’s visit or prescription
  • Available in stores
  • Provides an option for couples who don’t want to use hormonal contraception
  • Used only when partners actually have vaginal intercourse

Today Sponge Cons

  • Not as effective as hormonal contraception
  • Provides no protection against STDs
  • Can be expensive if needed regularly (each sponge costs about three dollars)
  • May be tricky or uncomfortable to insert if you don’t like to touch your own vulva and vagina

To get more detailed information about the sponge, check out the official website.

For information on other birth control methods, see this FAQ.


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