Vaginal Contraceptive Film Pros, Cons and Effectiveness

Updated May 30, 2019
discuss vaginal contraceptive film with your doctor

The vaginal contraceptive film (VCF) is a non-hormonal birth control option that is convenient, discreet, and easy to use. While the vaginal contraceptive film contains a highly effective spermicide, the efficacy rate is lower than many other birth control methods; however, when used in combination with a second form of birth control, its effectiveness increases to 99%.

Using Vaginal Contraceptive Film

Regardless of the method, all birth control effectiveness rates are raised when used correctly. To use vaginal contraceptive film, or VCF, follow these steps:

  1. Check the expiration date.
  2. Clean and dry hands.
  3. Open the package and peel the soft, square film from the wrapping and fold.
  4. Place it on top of the index finger.
  5. Insert VCF high into the vagina as close to the cervix as possible.
  6. Wait 15 minutes before having intercourse.

The film is effective for up to three hours or one act of sexual intercourse. Prior to sexual intercourse, read the instructions so the insertion will go smoothly and correctly. It is important to put the VCF into place before there is bodily contact between genitalia.

Vaginal Contraceptive Film Efficacy Rates

Vaginal contraceptive film works because of the sperm killing chemical called nonoxynol-9. It is considered a form of spermicide. The Center for Disease Control reports that spermicides, including films, have a failure rate of 28% with typical use. In other words, it is effective 82% of the time at preventing pregnancy.

On the other hand, a much better efficacy is reported by WebMD, which puts the rate at anywhere from 74 to 94 percent effectiveness with correct and consistent use. With typical-use effectiveness rates much lower than that of hormonal birth control methods, it is a good idea to use a back-up method for preventing pregnancy.

Using a Condom as Back-Up Protection

Using a condom combined with VCF is an excellent choice to help increase effectiveness at prevention of pregnancy. Because VCF offers no protection against sexually transmitted diseases, condoms should be used unless the couple is monogamous.

Pros and Cons of VCF

Every method of birth control offers advantages and disadvantages with its use. Vaginal contraceptive film is no exception. As always, speaking with a gynecologist is the best way to determine the right type of birth control. Different women have different needs.

VCF Pros

Choosing vaginal contraceptive film as a primary or secondary form of birth control has several advantages over other methods.

  • Film provides a way for women to take control of their birth control options.
  • It dissolves inside the body, without applicators or removal required.
  • The film turns into a gel-like substance and will not be runny or uncomfortable.
  • VCF is an option for women who want to avoid birth control pill side effects.
  • It can be purchased without a prescription at major retailers across the U.S.
  • Women who are smoking or have increased health risks when taking hormonal methods can safely use VCF.
  • VCF can provide additional coverage if a woman is concerned about using antibiotics and hormonal birth control at the same time.

Women who decide to stop birth control in order to get pregnant simply need to quit using the film. They can start trying to conceive whenever they choose.

VCF Cons

Before picking contraceptive film as a primary or secondary method of birth control, women should be aware of some negative aspects regarding its use:

  • VCF is not considered sufficient protection against sexually transmitted diseases, making another form of protection necessary.
  • Vaginal contraceptive film efficacy for typical use is less than several other choices available.
  • Irritation from the active ingredient, nonoxynol-9, can occur.
  • Sexual activity must stop for the film to be inserted.
  • It may be difficult for some women to insert the film in the proper place.

Informed Birth Control Decisions

Vaginal contraceptive film is a non-hormonal birth control that offers protection against pregnancy. Women should talk to their physician about methods of birth control available to them in order to make an informed decision. Women who decide to try VCF can obtain a free birth control sample from VCF by clicking on the Add to Cart button.

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Vaginal Contraceptive Film Pros, Cons and Effectiveness