A contraceptive jelly is a thick liquid infused with a spermicide and used as a form of birth control. Spermicide is a substance that can kill sperm with which it comes into contact. The combination of a thick jelly, which can prevent sperm from reaching the cervix, and a spermicide, which kills sperm, makes this substance an often recommended secondary method of birth control. It is generally not recommended to use contraceptive jellies alone as a primary method of birth control because of their relatively poor effectiveness compared to other popular methods. Contraceptive jellies can also sometimes double as a sexual lubricant, but the spermicide may have negative side effects for either partner.
The jelly is typically used in combination with barrier methods, such as cervical caps and diaphragms, though it is also often recommend to use a male or female condom as well. While the specific method of application will vary based on what other contraceptive items it is being used in conjunction with, the jelly will be used to coat the cervical cap or diaphragm, which is then pushed against the woman’s cervix. With or without a cervical blocking device, contraceptive jelly, as well as other spermicides, is considered most effective when applied directly to the cervix.
Its effectiveness when used in combination with a diaphragm is about 16 percent, meaning 16 percent of women using these two contraceptives become pregnant during the first year of use. Perfect use, which means the woman followed the instructions perfectly and left no room for error, has a 6 percent chance of pregnancy during the first year of use. With some other forms of birth control, this percentage can be halved, even if the method is used imperfectly.
There are numerous misconceptions and myths about how contraceptive jelly works, what it is, and how people have used it in the past. Some myths state that people have purchased jelly and utilized it as a food, such as a spread a person might put on a sandwich. Other reports have cited that people thought that a food jelly, made of strawberries or other fruit, could be used as a contraceptive jelly. Both of these myths are just stories told for a laugh, and there are no verified cases of these things happening. A publicized myth about contraceptive jelly of a more serious nature is that it offers protection against sexually transmitted infections, which is untrue, as it is effective only as a birth control method.