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Nonoxynol 9 is an organic compound that serves as the active ingredient in a wide range of contraceptive products. Among these are diaphragms, cervical cap jelly, spermicial foam, contraceptive sponges, and spemicidal suppositories. It has a failure rate of between 10 - 20%.
Some condom lubricants contain nonoxynol 9. Its stated purpose is to serve as backup method in preventing preganancy. In theory, it is a microbicide and thus can offer some protection against STIs should the condom break. However, no scientific evidence has been published to support these claims.
Originally, it was thought that nonoxynol 9 was an effective microbicide against STIs and HIV. The chemical compound works by disrupting cell membranes. Studies have found that it damages the cell lining of the rectum, cervix, and vagina which makes STI and HIV transmission more likely.