Is The Sponge For You?
Breast Cancer Survivors Say Bring It Back - Today!
(This is an archived article written two years before the FDA finally re-approved its use. Here's what we had to say in 2003...)
A woman from Michigan who had two bouts with breast cancer and a double mastectomy was warned to avoid pregnancy. She used the Today Sponge and avoided pregnancy. She reported that she had two miscarriages on other methods.
Many women looking for a good alternative to the pill were dismayed when the sponge was taken off the market in 1995. The Today Sponge does not contain hormones.
The active ingredient and spermicide, nonoxynol-9, has been available for 35 years and has been safely used by millions of women.
Why do women like the sponge? The Today Sponge is made from soft polyurethane foam that feels natural. Once inserted, the spermicide remains active for 24 hours and does not have to be refreshed like the foams and gels used with a diaphragm. No muss, no fuss and easy to use.
Nearly 250 million polyurethane Today Sponges were sold from 1983 to 1995. Production was discontinued after problems were found at the plant where it was manufactured. According to the FDA, there were no questions about the safety and effectiveness at that time.
Wyeth, the US manufacturer, made the decision to stop production rather than spend the money that would be necessary to fix the problems at the New Jersey factory.
Two foreign brands remained on the market. They were available over the Internet, but not in US stores. The Canadian version, Protectaid, does not have a cord attached to help with removing it. The other option is the Pharmatex. Produced in France, this version costs twice as much as the Today Sponge.
A smaller company, Allendale Pharmaceuticals, saw an opportunity and bought the rights to the Today Sponge. They began selling the sponge through Canadian Web sites. The Today Sponge still is not FDA approved for sale in the United States, but the company expects to be able to meet the standards and gain approval.
Contraceptive sponges do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases and do not prevent pregnancy as well as the pill, which is 99.1 percent to 99.5 effective if taken every day. The sponge prevents pregnancy 89 to 91 percent of the time.
Women who have allergies to nonoxynol-9, polyurethane foam or to the metabisulfite preservative used in the Today Sponge should not use this method of contraception. In one study, four percent of the women developed symptoms of an allergic reaction such as vaginal burning, itching, redness, rash, and irritation.
Elsewhere on the Web:
Today Sponge official site
Today Sponge approved by the FDA - April 22, 2005
July 9 , 2003
Updated April 20, 2017