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What Is Contraceptive Film?

The vaginal contraceptive film (VCF) is a relatively new method of contraception for women who do not want to take the birth control pill. It consists of a small piece of clear film that is inserted in the vagina just prior to intercourse. Once inside the vagina, the film turns into a viscous gel, which releases a spermicide called nonoxynol-9. This chemical kills or immobilizes sperm when left in the vagina for several hours after intercourse.

In order for a pregnancy to occur, the sperm cells need to enter the vagina and swim up to the uterus where they can fertilize the egg. Once you insert the contraceptive film inside the vagina, it will turn into a viscous fluid within 10 to 15 minutes that kills or incapacitates sperm before they reach the uterus. However, to be effective, the VCF must be inserted into the vagina at least 15 minutes prior to sexual intercourse and left there for several hours afterwards.

Is Contraceptive Film Effective?

VCF is 94% effective as a primary method of birth control if used as instructed. When used in combination with another birth control method, the effectiveness rate can go up to nearly 99%. The VCF will not work if placed inside the vagina only a few minutes prior to intercourse or if it is inserted earlier than three hours.

How to Use VCF

In order to insert it correctly, you will need to squat, fold the film over your finger, and push it deep inside the vagina. You should try to feel your cervix with your finger first if you have never used the contraceptive film before. Once it is inserted, you should wait about 15 minutes before having sexual intercourse.

The VCF offers protection for a single act of sexual intercourse, and its duration is about three hours. Unlike oral contraceptive pills, VCF is available over the counter and comes in either a single packet or a box containing 12 films.

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