New Zealand

Why Spermicides Are Not Used in NZL

By April 28, 2020 No Comments

Authored by Meghan Mcilwain, BPharm(Hons), MHSc(Hons), PhD

v1.0, dated 28-April-2020

The Best Practice Advocacy Centre New Zealand (bpacnz) do not recommend the use of spermicidal condoms or spermicide1,2. Spermicidal condoms and spermicide have not been available in New Zealand for many years, since 2010.

Lack of efficacy:

Used alone, spermicide is not an effective form of contraception. About 16 to 21 out of 100 women who use spermicide alone will get pregnant in the first year of perfect and typical use, respectively3.

When diaphragms are used correctly and with spermicide, between 4 to 8 out of 100 women will become pregnant; 92-96% efficacy with perfect use4. Please also note that without spermicide, diaphragms alone are not an effective form of contraception and are therefore not recommended by the New Zealand Family Planning Association (FPA)5.

There is no evidence that condoms with added spermicide provide any additional protection against pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections than non-spermicidal condoms4.

Risks and adverse effects:

Nonoxynol-9, a surfactant that disrupts cell membranes, is the most common spermicide4. The use of condoms lubricated with nonoxynol-9 is not recommended as excessive use, i.e. several times a day, increases the risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs) and vaginal or anal irritation which may increase the risk of HIV infection3,6.

Similarly, the use of nonoxynol-9 spermicide substances (jelly, cream, foam, etc.) can cause irritation around the penis or vagina, vaginal lesions, UTIs (especially when used ≥ 2 times per day) and may increase the risk of HIV infection3.

For further information, please refer to the Health and Disability Ethics Committee website (see Guides, Templates and Forms> Reproductive Risks in participants information sheet template).



1.) Best Practice Advocacy Centre. Contraception: which option for which patient? 2019. Available from: (Accessed Apr, 2020).

2.) Best Practice Advocacy Centre. Condoms: advising on the options. 2019. Available from: (Accessed Apr, 2020).

3.) World Health Organization Department of Reproductive Health and, Research (WHO/RHR) and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health/Center, for Communication Programs (CCP). Family Planning: a global handbook for providers (2018 update). 2018

4.) Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare. Barrier methods for contraception and STI prevention. 2015. Available from: (Accessed Apr, 2020).

5.) Family Planning Association. Diaphragms. Available from: (Accessed Apr, 2020).

6.) S. Department of Health and Human Services. Birth control methods. 2015 (updated 2017). Available from: (Accessed Apr, 2020).