In a word, no. The best way to guard against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) if you’re having sex is still the good ol’ condom. If you use the sponge and are concerned about both pregnancy and STIs, doubling up with the sponge and condoms could be a good option.
Birth control sponge
Condoms, internal condoms, the sponge, spermicide, and emergency contraception are all available at your nearest pharmacy.
In the U.S. the only forms of birth control available over the counter (OTC) are condoms, internal condoms, spermicide, the sponge, and emergency contraception pills. There’s been some debate about whether birth control pills should be sold OTC too as they are in many other countries, but for now you need a prescription.
If you’re looking for a method that requires a prescription, visit your local health clinic or find the nearest one here.
The irritation is likely from the spermicide—and since there’s no way to separate the two, you’re probably out of luck.
Try this: Check to see if you’ve got the sponge inserted deep enough, up against your cervix. (That’s the number one reason for it falling out.)
Each sponge can only be used one time, but you can have sex as many times as you want while the sponge is inserted—not more than 30 hours total, counting the 6 hours the sponge has to stay in place after sex.
P.S. When you’re done with one, dump it in the trash, not the toilet.
To correctly insert the sponge, push it as far into your vagina as your fingers can go. Then trace your finger around the edge of the sponge to make sure you can feel your cervix is completely covered.
Use one finger to grasp the loop on the sponge, then pull gently til the sponge comes out. Make sure it came out in one piece. If not, make sure you remove all the pieces from your vagina. Also, if when you go to take it out, you realize it was in wrong, think about EC.
The effectiveness of the sponge depends on whether you’ve had a baby or not. When used perfectly, it’s about 91% effective for those who have never had a baby and about 80% effective for those who have. With typical use, effectiveness goes down to around 88% for those who have not had a child and 76% for those who have.
In other words, among women who have never given birth:
Of those women who use the sponge exactly as directed, about 9 in 100 will experience an accidental pregnancy during the first year of using this method.
Of those women who do not use the sponge exactly as directed, about 12 in 100 will experience an accidental pregnancy during the first year of using this method.
And among those who have given birth:
Of those women who use the sponge exactly as directed, about 20 in 100 will experience an accidental pregnancy during the first year of using this method.
Of those women who do not use the sponge exactly as directed, about 24 in 100 will experience an accidental pregnancy during the first year of using this method.