In the past, public health experts recommended using condoms combined with Nonoxynol-9 (N-9), a spermicide,
for increased protection against pregnancy, HIV, and STDs. Two recent studies, however, call into question the
effectiveness and safety of N-9.
A study published by UNAIDS found that N-9 used without condoms was ineffective against HIV transmission.
This study actually showed some evidence that N-9 increased the risk of HIV infection.
Researchers note that this study was conducted among commercial sex workers in Africa who are at increased
risk and used a N-9 gel on a frequent basis. The adverse effects might not be seen at the same level among
women who are using N-9 less frequently or in a different formulation.
As a result of this study, however, the CDC concluded that given that N-9 has been proven ineffective against HIV
transmission, the possibility of risk, with no benefit, indicates that N-9 should not be recommended as an effective
means of HIV-prevention.
A similar study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that N-9, when used with condoms,
did not protect women from the bacteria that causes gonorrhea and chlamydial infection any better than condoms
SIECUS Fact Sheet, "The Truth About Condoms", November 2002