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VCF Vaginal Contraceptive Film

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Updated May 22, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

VCF Vaginal Contraceptive Film

VCF Vaginal Contraceptive Film

Photo © 2010 Dawn Stacey
Definition: Vaginal contraceptive film (VCF) is a hormone-free, 2x2-inch sheet of film, somewhat similar to wax paper. The ultra-thin VCF sheet is transparent, water-soluble and contains the spermicide Nonoxynol-9, which kills sperm on contact.

VCF Advantages:

  • Small size
  • Portable
  • Easy to use
  • Not messy
  • Is discreet
  • Allows for spontaneity
  • Doesn’t stain
  • Lasts for three hours
  • Can't be felt by either partner (because it contains less inactive ingredient than is required in foams, gels, suppositories and creams to deliver the spermicide)
VCF must be manually inserted into the vagina and dissolves almost immediately after insertion. There is nothing to remove. This vaginal contraceptive will melt into a thick gel consistency by absorbing vaginal secretions, so it acts as a barrier to immobilize sperm. VCF must be inserted at least 15 minutes before intercourse for it completely dissolve and work effectively. VCF has a shelf life of 5 years on all produced batches.

Vaginal contraceptive film is considered to be an effective and safe contraceptive when used consistently and according to the instructions provided. There are almost no side effects when using VCF. According to Apothecus Pharmaceutical (the manufacturer of VCF), only 2% of VCF users have reported minor irritation or burning of the vagina or penis.

Effectiveness: Apothecus maintains that VCF has undergone many safety and efficacy studies conducted worldwide. Apothecus claims that in these clinical studies, "VCF, when used as directed, has a Pearl Index failure rate of 5.9.” This means that out of 100 women who use VCF for 1 year, 5.9 will become pregnant (correlating to a 94% success rate). Typical user rates (those who may not use it consistently or may forget it at times) are closer to 74%, so with typical use 26 out of every 100 women who use contraceptive film will become pregnant during the first year.

Pronunciation: VCF - Vaginal Contraceptive Film: vag·i·nal (vj-nl) con·tra·cep·tive (kntr-sptv) film (flm)
Also Known As: VCF, vaginal contraceptive film, spermicide film, spermicidal film, contraceptive film and vaginal contraceptive.
Common Misspellings: Vaginal contreceptive film
Examples:
VCF is an over-the-counter vaginal contraceptive that consists of a spermicidal film.

STD Protection: VCF does not protect against HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Some studies have suggested that frequent use of products containing nonoxynol-9 can increase vaginal irritation, which may increase the risk of getting STDs from infected partners.

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