zombie sponge back for revenge

It's the sponge that never ends. It just goes on and on my friend! In the summer of 2008, I joyfully wrote about the death of the Today Sponge - the company that had bought it had gone bankrupt. I have a (probably irrational) hatred for the Today Sponge so I was thrilled.

Well, that sneaky little sucker found it's way back onto our drugstore shelves without me even knowing it. I've seen it around now and investigated to see what the hell happened.

Seems that Mayer Labs bought it relaunched it in the US in the summer of 2009. In January of this year, they announced it's availability in Shopper's Drug Marts in Canada. Sigh......

So, Today Sponge, my old nemesis, why do I hate thee? Once again, let me count the ways:

1) The Today Sponge has a perfect use effectiveness rates of 89% to 91%. That means that even if you use it exactly as directed, perfectly without fail, every single time you do it, you have a one in ten chance of getting pregnant within a year. I don't know about you, but for this pregnancy-phobe, that's too damn high! One of the few reasons I can think that people would choose this is because it doesn't really interfere with sensation and pleasure at all which means they wouldn't be using condoms. Using this alone is pretty risky.

2) It's bloody pricey! A box of 3 sponges is $19. That's more than $6 per. That's fucking expensive! And expensive fucking!

3) and this is the big one. The Today Sponge is absolutely, and literally, soaked in non-oxynol 9. It contains the highest percentage of non-oxynol 9, by far, of any spermicidal contraceptive on the market. N-9 is an industrial solvent that causes major irritation for most women. Seriously, does it make sense to soak a sponge in an industrial solvent and shove it up your vagina? Not to me it doesn't. Studies that came out in the late 90's (read my previous post for more info. on this) showed that women who used products that contain N-9, if they used them frequently, have a much higher risk of contracting STI's, particularly HIV. The risk is higher the higher the concentration of N-9 in the product. For people who have many partners or who have partners who have STI's, especially if they're not using condoms, this much N-9 is a risky proposition.

Besides the increase in STI risk, N-9 is just nasty. Most women I know, including me react badly to it. To me, N-9 is yeast infection in a box. All I have to do is look at a spermicidal foam and I'll get a yeast infection. Wish somebody at the birth control centre would have told me that all those years ago so I could have avoided it and saved myself the trouble. Irritations and ph imbalances like that are not only painful, embarrassing, and major disruptions in your life, they do leave you more susceptible to bacteria and viruses.

I do understand the other side of this argument. Some people argue that it's important to have this available for women who don't have much control over their own reproductive health, can't insist on condoms, can't even talk about them, and for whatever reason, can't be on the pill. This is something they can do quietly and easily without their partners' knowledge.

But the big flaw in that argument is that the sponge costs $6 a pop! Are women that are in those circumstances usually able to afford an $18 box of contraceptives that might last them a week? No, they just aren't. The women who are using Today are not those women, they are women who have money and control over that money. And I just really wonder if those women know how truly ineffective and risky the sponge is.