Editor’s note: My weblog readers are sharp as hell and they responded when I said that Nonoxynol-9 should be blamed for the recent spike in HIV contraction among African American women…

I have recently come across some interesting information that I thought was important to share with you, even though I’m sure most of it you know already. Basically, nonoxynol 9 is horrible stuff and no one should use it. Don’t look at me as a horrid skank, I just think the fact that you can even buy condoms with this stuff in it is absurd. Plus I find the level of ignorance in Canada regarding the delicate vaginal ecosystem terrifying and am doing my best to combat it. All I have to say is, yay for private health care.

This is a World Health Organization article on N-9 saying that it may encourage the contraction of HIV and herpes, doesn’t prevent cervical gonorrhoea, and chlamydia, and causes yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis in women.

WHO officials heard of an increasing number of complaints by women using spermicides and contraceptive sponges with nonoxynol-9 who experienced vaginal and cervical ulcers, burning sensations, and recurring yeast infections.

They are not exactly sure why but they think that nonoxynol-9 can disrupt the epithelium, or wall, of the vagina, thereby potentially facilitating invasion by an infective organism.

Women who use diaphragms with Nonoxynol-9 (N9) spermicides have twice to three and a half times the risk of contracting a urinary tract infection (UTI). The spermicide inhibits the growth of normal, beneficial vaginal bacteria that naturally protect against infections such as lactobacilli and gardnerella vaginalis, thus encouraging the overgrowing of the harmful bacterium escherichia coli (E-coli). Condoms are another major source of exposure to N9. Spermicide-coated condoms were responsible for 42% of E coli UTIs among women who were exposed to these products.

Info from a healthy sex site:
How does Nonoxynol-9 work against HIV?
HIV is a virus that has a fatty membrane around it, just like our own cells have. Nonoxynol-9 is essentially a detergent. Detergents cut through grease, and that’s exactly how N-9 kills HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. But it only does the job in a test tube. What we found in this study was that once you put N-9 in a woman’s vagina, it will also cut through the fat of her cells, which makes it easier for HIV to get into those cells. Women who are highly exposed to N-9 actually show ulceration on the tissues of the vagina, and those ulcers can enhance the ability of HIV to get in. The same holds true for men. The rectum is even more vulnerable than the vagina to the effects of N-9.

Problematic case study from Canada:
Of 64 women commercial sex workers in Canada who used condoms lubricated with nonoxynol-9, 28 reported vaginal discharge, five reported increased thrush infection and four reported a burning sensation or numbness. Another study found 43 percent of women suffer irritation. Dr. Malcolm Potts, Secretary of International Family Health said studies on the spermicide had been very inadequate and more research was needed.

Here is a great article from Wired magazine, which claims N-9 doesn’t do much for contraception either.

And here is an article from the WHO stating (on page 7 of the PDF) that there is no conclusive evidence that condoms with N-9 prevent pregnancy better than other lubricants in vitro.

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