Contraceptive Sponge Makes A Comeback

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woman buying contraceptive
You'll find it back in some stores this week. Should you consider it? Here's what you need to know.

A new distributor is bringing the female contraceptive known as the sponge back to store shelves. The Today Sponge is expected to appear in thousands of CVS and Longs Drug Stores locations across the nation this week, and Walgreens this summer, reports Natasha Singer for the New York Times.

Since appearing in 1983, the sponge has been a here-again, gone-again female contraceptive. Factory compliance issues spotted by the FDA led to its 1995 disappearance; the sponge contraceptive re-emerged in 2005 with new owners and was later sold to still other owners who declared bankruptcy in 2007. Now, the Today Sponge is back. Is it worth considering making a switch to this female contraceptive? Here's what you need to know.

The synthetic vaginal sponge is soft and saturated with a spermicide called nonoxynol 9. It's a barrier contraception method (similar to condoms) meaning that it physically prevents sperm from making contact with egg. Prior to intercourse, the sponge is moistened and inserted in the vagina over the cervix. It remains inserted for six to eight hours after intercourse.Does His Weight Gain Mean Less Sex?

The Today Sponge can be purchased over-the-counter (a three-pack box costs about $14); it does not need to be fitted by a doctor and it does not require a doctor's prescription.

The sponge is 84% effective according to Mayo Clinic (possibly more in women who've had children). If the directions are followed and no pills are missed, the birth control pill can be up to 99% effective, reports Mayo Clinic. Because it is not hormone-based, the sponge won't lead to the same side effects that some women may experience with birth control pills (nausea, headaches, vomiting, bloating, depression). But neither the birth control pill nor the sponge protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Condoms are typically 85% effective, according to Mayo Clinic, and offer protection against STDs including HIV.

Readers, what's your prediction: Will the Today Sponge be here to stay this time? 

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