Saturday, July 30, 2016

A Natural Contraceptive Sponge: DIY or DI Don't?

It's the meeting of two current trends: a push towards more natural forms of contraception, and the DIY craze.

Women, myself included, are wondering if Intimate Sea Sponges can be used with ContraGel to create a completely natural DIY Today Sponge.

What is the today sponge? Well, if you are too young to remember the notorious Sponge episode of Seinfeld, let me recap for you. The Today Sponge is a donut shaped synthetic sponge loaded with Nonoxynol-9 that fits over the cervix and kills sperm. For years, millions of women relied on the Sponge for their birth control needs. It was accessible, easy to use, and had little side effects.

One of the things that really hit me when I went back and watched the full episode is that in the mid 90's apparently not every sexually active woman was on the Pill. There were options.

Today, I feel like the very mention of alternative forms of birth control is taboo. "I could never trust the sponge," most women would scoff! Of course, I'll chalk it up to the pharmaceutical companies hijacking the industry and casting anything non-hormonal as ancient and ineffective. But the truth is that for many women, the sponge, spermicide, and of course the diaphragm and cervical cap could be just what the doctor ordered... if only doctors would order them! Oh well, slow small changes and eventually there will be sense around this issue!

But of course, not everyone has jumped on the pharmaceutical  bandwagon. There is a small but growing voice giving rise to a new generation of women reexamining non-hormonal birth control, including the contraceptive sponge. And I am all for it.

But while typical contraceptives sponges are great for many reasons,  there is the problem of the Nonoxynol-9 spermicidal chemical. Nonoxynol- 9 is actually a highly abrasive detergent (yes, like what you would use to clean floors), and there are quite a number of women (and men!) who get red and itchy down there when using Nonoxynol-9. No wonder! And besides, who wants a cocktail of chemicals absorbed into their body through the extremely permeable vaginal mucous membranes?

So that brings us Intimate Sponges + ContraGel. Can ContraGel (the natural spermicide alternative that I've been championing here for years) be used together with an Intimate Sea Sponge to create nontoxic, DIY Today sponge? 

ContraGel + Intimate Sea Sponge = a natural contraceptive sponge? 
I was intrigued enough to do some testing at home, and this is what I've found. 

Keep in mind that this is totally my own judgement, and there is absolutely no official testing on the use of Sea Sponges and ContraGel together.  I chose to test it out during a time when I was not fertile anyway, and I am going to stick with my FemCap during my fertility window. For me, it feels safer and more secure. But I can  also imagine sponges being used as a back up method, along with condoms or maybe even Neem Oil

The first thing that I did was take a nail scissor and cut out a little nub. My goal was to have the natural sponge resemble the donut type shape of the Today sponge. Of course, you have to wet your sponge before cutting, but trimming a moistened sponge is easy. 

Sharp nail scissors and a moistened sponge. The goal is to get the sponge to cap the cervix. 

A non toxic Today Sponge kit! Reusable too!
Then, I gave a decent little squeeze of ContraGel right into the nub. After a few seconds, the sponge had totally absorbed the ContraGel. I don't know why I was a little surprised by how quickly and efficiently it absorbed the gel. I added another decent size glob, which was also quickly absorbed. 

The first glob of ContraGel was immediately soaked up by the sponge 

This was interesting, as I ended up using a lot more ContraGel than I originally expected. Probably close to two tablespoons, which more than double what I use when adding ContraGel to my FemCap.

There was a nice amount of ContraGel now inside the sponge, and it was very cool because while the sponge was heavy from the gel, it did not leak. I could tell it was thoroughly embedded into the canals, as if the sponge was gripping the gel and preventing it from dripping out.  

I used about two tablespoons of ContraGel before I felt like the sponge was really saturated 

And... This is where the pictures are going to stop :)

In action, the sponge was easy enough to insert. I did not twist the sponge quite as much as I do when using them as tampons because I did not want to  squeeze out the contraGel. So I just sort of crammed it up there, and it seemed like most of the ContraGel stayed put. 

It was very very comfortable when inside, and I could not feel it at all. The cool thing was neither could my husband (he is quite a sport putting up with these experiments!)  The soft and pillowy texture of a sponge mimics the inside of our vagina, so becomes undetectable. 

After sex, I left it in overnight, deciding to follow the generally accepted diaphragm/FemCap instructions and leave it in for 6 hours after intercourse. 

I expected washing it out to be a bit of a nightmare, but again, surprisingly, it was very easy. A bit of hand soap and running water got all the sperm/fluids right out, and after I gave the sponge a thorough bath in tea tree oil, very hot water, and vinegar. 

So what are my thoughts about using a an Intimate Sea Sponge with ContraGel? I'm pleasantly surprised. I think it would be best used as a back up along with a condom, where I think it would serve it's purposes perfectly and would be highly effective. It could also work if you are taking Neem Oil for contraception, or if you are tracking your ovulation symptoms but still want to use something outside the fertility window just in case. On it's own, I personally would not rely on it, but to each her own and for some it might be ok! 

Now, on the product purchasing front, which I always try to advise you guys on... site has not totally panned out, and I've been having a hard time getting ContraGel direct from within the USA. 

The site where I get my sponges from is actually the same owners as my old go to, so they are still really good and reliable. I've had a bunch of packages shipped over from the UK, and they have great customers service. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Intimate Sea Sponges as a Natural Tampon Replacement

Ok guys, Its been ages since I blogged here! I guess a natural spermicide blog can only go so far, after a while I guess I just ran out of what to talk about! But I still get a ton of emails and questions, so I figured I'd pick up the pen again because I have a perfect segue right now - menstrual sponges!!

I had written a preliminary blog post abut Intimate Sea Sponges a really long time ago, but I just never got around to  getting some. Then I got hooked on buying the  FemmyCycle menstrual cup and these came free! And I tell you ladies, my life has been transformed.

I'm not exaggerating. (Well maybe just a tiny bit.)

But truly, these Intimate Sponges are awesome, and every woman in the world should have some on hand. I've used them for everything in the past few months, so I'm going to break it down for you right here.

Natural Intimacy- Intimate Sea Sponges.

sea sponge tampon
Note that originally the Intimate Sponges were both the same size, but I cut one down to use on my light days.
Ok, so let's get down to business. In this post I'm going to talk about the main purpose of these sponges: a natural tampon alternative. Yup, these little babies are nature's tampon! And why now? Sea sponge is soft, it's absorbent, it's chemical free - as opposed to regular tampons that are so full of toxins and who-knows-what they don't even list ingredients on the box!

(There are many other uses for these sponges as well, so look out for a blog post coming on that soon!)

Intimate Sponges come in two options: either bleached or unbleached. Unbleached are kind of a light brown color, and the bleached seem to be more yellowish.  I went for the unbleached variety because they tend to be a bit more absorbent, but I've seen some women say they like the bleached because they are easier to clean. So it's just a personal preference thing.

They come in this funky little hemp bag. And have a thing for cute little bags. Of course I've used the bag to store my sponges, but it has also been used to hold spare earnings when traveling for a few days, and to stash some sunscreen sticks and other randoms things on a trip to the beach.

natural intimacy hemp bag
Why do I love cute little bags so much?? 

When I first took the sponge tampons out of the bag they were hard, nothing like a typical dish sponge. So I was kind of confused. There was no way I was going to get this... up there! Only then did I see that you have to wet them and clean them first. As soon as I ran the sponge under warm water it became so soft and pliable. I was amazed by how much water it absorbed. I would hold it under the tap for a good few seconds, watching it expand as it filled. Again, totally different than a dish sponge.

I have a cleaning mix of water, vinegar, lemon, and tea tree oil, and that seemed like the perfect thing to clean my new sponge with. A good disinfecting, antibacterial punch. The package said that there could sometimes be bits of sea debris embedded in the sponge when you get it, but I did not find that in my sponges. But it does not come in sterile packaging and it is going up my whoo-ha... so yeah, they should be cleaned.

using a sea sponge as a tampon
This is how I twisted to insert. It becomes about the width of a tampon, but shorter. 

Insertion is really easy. Actually way easier than a menstrual cup that needs to be positioned and open up correctly to catch the blood flow. To insert the sea sponge as a tampon, wet it with warm water, and then twisted it into a narrow cylindrical shape. Then, while sitting on the toilet, I just inserted it. I did not tie a piece of dental floss around it (some women do this to create a tampon like string) because my cervix tends to sit a bit lower and I was not expecting difficulty removing.

The sponges can also be trimmed with a scissor if you find it is too big or you don't have a heavy menstrual flow. That is one of the great things about the Natural Intimacy brand of sea sponge tampons. Other brands tend to come in specific sizes, so you end up paying more for a larger sponge. Intimate Sponges only come in one size, which is quite large, so you can cut them down to the perfect size for you.

I left one of my sponges the full size and the other I cut almost in half to make a smaller sponge for lighter days. The other half of that sponge I am currently using for makeup removal!

what to use instead of regular tampons
Smaller Intimate Sponge for Light Days 
Once it was inside, I sort of shoved it up as high as it would go, and that was it. I could not feel it at all! It was totally amazing. And for 4 hours of moderate flow, I was totally leak free. After about 4 hours, I felt like it was leaking a tiny bit, so I went to change it. But to my surprise it actually was not leaking. I've found 4 hours to be the maximum time I can keep it in on heavier days though. After that I have experienced some leaks, but nothing too bad at all.

Removal is actually super easy, because once it is saturated with blood it sits lower in the vaginal canal, really right by the entrance to my vagina. Again, two  seconds, I reached in and pinched the edge to pull it out.

tea tree oil for cleaning sea sponges
Post-period cleanse

Cleaning it is the part that gets a lot of women. Yes, you are pulling a sponge with menstrual blood out of your body and you have to wash it. But ladies, it is no big deal. In fact, it is awesome to actually come in contact with this part of our reality instead of viewing it as gross or "unviewable". When the blood does not come into contact with air the way it does in a pad, and is not exposed to chemicals like when using a tampon, it has no scent. It is just, I don't know how to put this, but fresh and almost earthy (no, I'm not crazy, use one and you'll understand!).

Just running it under the bathroom tap for a few minutes, and then agitating with my fingers, was enough to clean it. I got a little blood on my fingers, but seriously, it is no big deal at all. Then, I squeezed out the extra water and in it went again.

After my period ended, I soaked the sponges for about half an hour in a little bath of tea tree oil, lemon, and water.

So far I've used my sponges at the beach, while doing yoga, and chasing after rambunctious kids. They check off all the important boxes for me: they are environmentally friendly, natural, non toxic, and frugal. Try these Intimate sea sponge tampons. I dare you. And I promise, you are going to love them! And leave comments please to let me know how you get on!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Thank You Uncle Sam! Caya Diaphragms Approved by the FDA for the USA

Great Christmas present for barrier contraceptive users, the FDA seems to have approved the Caya diaphragm for use in the USA. Check the press release here.

Yes, the Government has given the green light to more couples having sex without having to take hormonal contraceptives in order to avoid pregnancy. Thank you so much Uncle Sam, this is exactly what big government is for!

While our European cousins have been able to get hold of all sorts of diaphragms, cervical caps and natural spermicides for so long, us American's have just had to look on with envy.

I'm not big on conspiracy theories but I have noted a huge suppression of natural contraceptive methods in the US compared to other developed nations. So we're just supposed to take a pill, get an implant or a hormone loaded jab instead, right? But I'll get off my soap box...

So what is the Caya? Instead of the UFO style 'traditional' diaphragms which you can still get from the Caya is a futuristic curvy type of affair. Reading suggests that new high tech springy-coily materials which form the previously circular forms of 'traditional' UFO diaphragms, can now be set in a specific vagina-friendly shape, giving a better fit. Makes sense to me. I'm sure I'm not a perfect circle inside there. The new shape would therefore give a better fit and so better contraceptive protection.

The other notable thing about the Caya diaphragm is that it comes in a single size. When I first read that I gave a small jump of joy for my diaphragm faithful friends out there, knowing what a nightmare they have getting a OB who actually understands diaphragms to assess the correct size. Apparently they come in sizes of 60, 65, 70, 75, 80, 85 and 90mm. Think about how small 5mm is. It's a tiny amount. Then consider that if you grew in size (weight gain and loss impacts the dimensions of the vagina!) just enough to have a change of 3mm, you would be closer to the next size along. Staying on top of changing diaphragm sizes as you go through your reproductive life can be really difficult, especially as more and more doctors don't even have fitting kits!

As I said "When I first read that I gave a small jump of joy..." then I read the small print. I had jumped to the assumption it was a one-size-fits-all diaphragm. Not so. It only replaces the 65, 70, 75 and 80mm diaphragms, so you need to be fitted in the first place to know if you really fit into that size window, and then if your at the upper or lower size limit, presumably you would have to keep checking that were still the case and your size hadn't slipped out of that range.

So not a perfect solution but a big step forwards at least. It's a non-hormonal contraceptive which is FDA approved.

With the Caya, as you can imagine, a spermicide is needed. So the manufacturers of Gynol and Nontoxynol 9 will be very happy. Or you could go natural with Contragel, as I do. I still get mine from Jenny, her email is info at until they get the website working. Note to Jenny, I recommend you do this quickly, people need Contragel!

I myself use a FemCap. The main reason for this decision was indeed the fitting issues with diaphragms mentioned above (I didn't know how to get fitted for a diaphragm but found out about the FemCap whilst trying to work out a solution) as you don't need to be fitted for a FemCap. Covering the cervix as the FemCap does means you only need to know the size of your cervix - easier than you might think. Apparently when you reach puberty your cervix would be 22mm across and never changes unless you became pregnant. Pregnancy makes it 26mm, regardless of if you give birth vaginally or not. Then the only other cervix changing event would be a vaginal delivery. The dilation would be massive by comparison, but when everything settles down afterwards it shrinks back down to a 30mm diameter. Using this system means that you don't need a session in stirrups to choose the right size. Quite handy if your in a developing country with limited medical infrastructure. Orders for FemCaps along with questions about them can sent through where every question I've ever had has been answered really quickly.

So who would win the battle of the contraceptives between a Caya and a FemCap?

I can only speak as a FemCap user here and don't actually know anyone who has used a Caya yet. I'm sold on the FemCap though. Why? Well it has to be for the fit of it. Think of popping a thimble on your thumb, a nice comfy fit right, now load it with Contragel and pop it on your thumb. Yeah, suction. There is an airtight (read sperm-tight) seal formed when the gel seals the gaps around the edge of the thimble or in my case the FemCap. The suction is broken for removal just by squishing it which breaks the seal, simple. That gives me a massive sense of security. I've heard of contraceptive failures by diaphragms slipping out of place, no idea if that could happen with the Caya and its new curvaceous design but the suction of the FemCap gives very reassuring peace of mind. Also a very minor point, hygiene. The FemCap is a sturdy chunk of strong silicone which is smooth and easy to clean, I even boiled it once, where as photos of the Caya has it with lots of  hard to clean crevices. I suspect that the flexible dome part of the diaphragm would be like a regular diaphragm too, even if it were a nicer shape, from the diaphragms I've handled I know that they wouldn't be as tough as a sturdy silicone FemCap, a nail or a ring could puncture it but in all honesty you would notice doing it and I don't think it should be a big worry.

There we go. A new diaphragm on the market to use with your Government approved N9 spermicide, I'd go with FemCap myself but that's just personal choice and I haven't tried a Caya either so it it's not a truly qualified opinion. Clicking around online I see the Caya available here at EthicalFamilyPlanning who I've come across many times before and seem to be a decent source of good products.

I'm almost back in the swing of regular posts now, I'll try and keep it up in the new year, my next post  will be about menstrual sponges, I've got them here now, next week should be 'that time of month' when I can give them a real test run.

Enjoy the festive period :)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Can A Menstrual Sponge Be Used With Contragel As A Contraceptive?

Not such a random question, I've now been asked that 3 times in the last 2 months.

Maybe the squeeze on diaphragms is hitting people. I can just imagine all the shell shocked diaphragm users being cut off from their favorite barrier contraceptive and spermicide so they have to using sponges for contraception!

The menstrual sponge thing is something I have looked at before, never tried it though, popping a chunk of natural sponge where a tampon would have been and giving it a quick rinse a few times a day until your period's over. A damned good idea, its totally natural and biodegradable and once more shows that nature always does it best.

But adding Contragel and using it for contraception....mmm....

I know there is the Today Sponge and that must serve as a good precedent for spongey contraception but did you ever see the ingredients list - theres enough Nontoxynol 9 to take take down an elephant.

So switching the Today Sponge for a regular, natural sponge with a natural spermicide makes some sense. At this point I can hear my cousins voice in the distance, a corporate lawyer reminding me to cover my butt and say that DIY contraception is an unproven and risky option and you should check with your Doctor, GYN/OBY, healthcare provider, insurance company etc before embarking on any such initiatives, I guess that voice in the distance is right, in the butt covering sense at least.

Would it work? Well on the face of it you have a barrier and you have a spermicide, if the sponge is big enough it's forming a barrier and if the spermicide is thickly applied on the lower/outer half of the sponge it would get hit by the incoming sperm but I think we should look more closely.

A big wedge of sponge? That would limit penetration, right? So you would use a smaller one, so less barrier and potentially more movement.

Spermicide being applied on there is fine but aren't sponges absorbent? That would make me think of loads more being added to account for absorption.

If a diaphragm or Femcap wants to be left in place for 6 hours after the act to kill the sperm then the spongey option would have to respect that issue too.

Removal, seems fine, some menstrual sponge users wrap a bit of dental floss around their sponges for easier removal, given the urgh factor in this scenario dental floss would be a go-er.

Cleaning, drying and storage afterwards? I can't quite get my head around that one. The consistency of ejaculate makes me imagine it being well and truly embedded in the sponge pores and then to think of inserting it again....Im sure any sperm hidden in the pores of the sponge would have died off but still.... I hate to be wasteful but I would go for a new sponge every time. Or maybe I'd try soaking in vinegar and a few drops of tea tree oil.

Could be done then. All of this chat about sponges, I think it's time I finally got around to give it a go, I'll check out these sponges that I was sent a link to via Twitter last weekend and I'll let you know how I get on with the menstrual bit. If that goes ok I might investigate the contraceptive bit. I use a Femcap with Contragel already during my fertility window so it shouldn't be anything new for me but I just need to have the safety side of it clear in my mind first.

I'll let y'all know how I get on.

Also give me feedback, is still shipping the diaphragms ok? Are people getting what they need (I was asking regarding the diaphragms, not the nookie!)? Contragel from ?

I heard a rumor about a new natural spermicide being tested in the US right now, not Contragel but something different. Anyone else hear about that?

Hopefully post again before the Christmas break!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Diaphragm Crisis - USA

So was it Obama care? Was it Al-Qaida? The Communists? Or maybe it's the Catholic Church. I'm not really sure what's going on but barrier contraceptive users are having a harder time than ever.

Ok, so maybe it sounds like a conspiracy theory in the making here and maybe Im a bit more caffeinated than is acceptable by any cardiologist, but after all of the tribulations of trying to get some natural spermicide, they have now taken away our diaphragms too!

My mail box is collapsed with my dearest friends and followers saying that over night it seems that the availability of diaphragms from drugstores has gone in a puff of smoke.

To be more specific, the main (or maybe the only?) diaphragm prescribed here in the States is or rather was the Ortho All Flex model, a flexi little number which is/was latex free. But from one day to the next it has disappeared with no trace and no explanation. You would think that there would be stock somewhere in the supply chain so a product recall could explain this, with all stock being sent back down the line but that's just guess work based on the lack of information and the suddenness of this vanishing act.

I served my time with diaphragms many years ago, these days I'm a FemCap user, the dinky little cervical cap, but only during my fertility window thanks to my lil'ole Cyclotest doing my charting for me.

But being the well connected gal that I am and wanting to help my girlfriends out who really want some loving' but can't quite play it safe, I've made a few calls and sent a few emails and it seems the consensus is that to buy diaphragms online right now you just head over to buy

That revelation with hindsight might not sound like investigative journalism at its greatest, the words obvious and freakin do spring to mind but let me explain.

When you Google "buy diaphragms" it pops up at the top. Im sure if you used Bing it would also show up at the top. I remember I used them myself years ago but things move on and maybe they couldn't really keep up with their orders given the disappearance of the Ortho now.

My friend in NYC, Caitlyn, took the plunge, ordered and a week later had a  new Milex diaphragm delivered to her door. I passed that knowledge on to a desperate follower on the West Coast who gave it a shot, 8 days later the mailman cam a knocking and she had her desired barrier contraceptive.

So there we go, the freakin obvious combined with hands on scientific testing and we have a 100% success rate on online orders with these guys. is the way to go, they do our beloved ContraGel too.

There's a flat rate 15 pounds shipping fee to the USA so even if you (panic) buy a few diaphragms a years supply of ContraGel, you still just pay the same shipping fee. So that's pounds, or Great British Pounds as our quaint transatlantic cousins like to remind us, maybe we should go with Great American Dollars.....

So 15 Great British Pounds is about 25 US, not the cheapest but the price of the diaphragm itself isn't so bad and if you buy more than 3 ContraGel the price drops to 10 pounds a tube, which even with any shipping combo you want to try is actually the best price that can be found. are still in the US doing ContraGel (I called to check before posting this) but they don't do the diaphragms, however being in the US means they should be quicker with delivery if it's just the spermicide you want.

Please share any feedback as there's a lot of women that want to stay up to date on their buying options.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Natural Lovin', Obamacare and Unwanted Pregnancies

Now this blog post title may sound juicy, provocative and controversial but it's not quite that scandalous...I really wouldn't have enough time to deal with all the hate mail that a misguided blog post can reign in!

Obamacare, like it or loath it, managed to write itself into history for many reasons. The Government shutdown that controversially followed it was a whole chapter in US history on it's own and had a major impact on our supplies of natural spermicide.

Yes, Obamacare may already have increased the number of unwanted pregnancies and increased our birth rate in the USA.

As we know, many natural products have to be brought in from outside the US, especially if some big pharmaceutical company with major lobbying time could be loosing a few sales (ever thought that one diaphragm purchase could stop 5 years worth of hormonal contraceptive sales?). So our beloved diaphragms and Contragel have to be shipped in from our European cousins and guess what? The process of importing pretty simple packages (put a stamp on it, ship it, get it delivered, not rocket science now is it!) totally collapsed during the shut down.

I personally had a 3 week wait for what should have taken 5 days.

Now luckily this smart girl still had a few half tubes of Contragel squirreled away in the bedroom drawers, but how many women would have gone without a bit of natural lovin' due to their contraceptives getting held up in a mail sorting office waiting for some politicians to get on with their (highly paid) jobs? did they go without or did they just chance it? Who knows. Maybe we should fix a diary event for 9 months to check for a spike in American births!

So was anything gained by all of the political game playing? Well I for one got really tired of watching the news which actually lead me to make a few new Facebook friends. Not sure if that's really a healthy benefit.

One thing that did happen as a result of all of this is that the guys'n'gals at who I've been getting some naturally nice European products from have somehow started shipping 'locally' within the states. Rather than send each and every package across the ocean and run the risk of sitting at some mail depot for 3 weeks, they're sending orders out locally from the US using stock they already have over here.

Not tried it out yet as my stupidly delayed package (not their fault, I know) has now arrived so I'm good for a few months, if anyone does give it a go please let me know if it's quicker and cheaper, the proposal sounds like it should be but reality can be real bitch with PMS sometimes!

Contact Jen through info@naturally-nice dot com who can get you fully informed.

BTW, I've had a few emails asking if I can recommend anyone for Contragel in Australia. Any suggestions people?

Catch up soon!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

ContraGel shipped to the USA, cheap and reliable!!

Okay, shameless plug here, I mentioned these guys in the UK a few months back, and exchanged a few emails, basically they sell ContraGel, online sales aren't their focus but they say if you email them they'll send you a Paypal request for 20GBP for the first tube (to cover shipping) and then 10GBP a tube after that.

I gave them a try (they said for the mention I would get some free products and I'm a sucker for free products :) ,and my large ContraGel order turned up with USPS a week later.  So I get to share the news, and get awesome free natural products. I"m a happy gal.

So pop them an email, give your address and number of tubes and they'll get back with a payment link. Random payments online as far as I'm aware are still covered by Paypal protection and most likely your credit card company so I felt confident enough to give it a try.

More later...