Nonoxynol-9: Health Alert!



1. What is Nonoxynol-9?

Nonoxynol-9 is a product widely used in spermicides found on condoms and other contraceptive devices. Until recently, It has been thought to reduce the risk of HIV and other STD transmission.

2. What’s the problem?

Recent studies have indicated that nonoxynol-9 is not only ineffective in preventing HIV infection, but may actually increase a woman’s chances of becoming HIV positive.

3. How can this be?

Nonoxynol-9 has been likened to an extremely potent detergent. It seems that it may damage vaginal walls during intercourse, creating a site infection point through which STDs could enter the blood stream. The vagina produces a number of secretions that form a natural protective barrier. Stripping these secretions from the vagina and causing open abrasions is potentially very dangerous.

A recent study by UNAIDS in Africa revealed that women (HIV negative sex trade workers) who used the N-9 spermicide gel had become infected with HIV at approximately a 50% higher rate than women who used a placebo gel. In addition, the more frequently women used only the N-9 gel (without a condom) to protect themselves, the higher their risk for contracting the HIV virus. So, in this high-risk group, N-9 gel may have facilitated the transmission of the HIV virus.

4. How do I know if a specific contraceptive device contains Nonoxynol-9?

Products that have been sold in Canada that contain N-9 spermicides include:

  • Trojan Ribbed Condom with N-9 spermicide
  • Gynol II Contraceptive Jelly with N-9
  • Lifestyles Spermicidally Lubricated Condom
  • Hardcover Ultra Condom with Nonoxynol-9
  • Advantage 24 (Vaginal Contraceptive Gel)
  • Delfen Foam Spermicide

Always check the label carefully before using any product. Remember, the benefits of any N-9 lubricated condom outweigh the risks of not using a condom at all. However, the best STD and HIV barrier is a latex condom without N-9, many of which are available at your local drugstore.

***Information for this segment courtesy of Women’s Ware Inc. Log on to for more information.