Current Microbiology

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 219–223 | Cite as

Influence of the spermicidal compound nonoxynol-9 on the growth and adhesion of urogenital bacteria in vitro

  • Jacqueline A. McGroarty
  • Stephanie Chong
  • Gregor Reid
  • Andrew W. Bruce


Lactobacilli and uropathogenic bacteria isolated from the female urogenital tract were tested for their susceptibility to nonoxynol-9. Nonoxynol-9 is a spermicidal compound, generally used at a concentration of 5% in cream and 12.5% in foam. The growth of 67% of fresh, vaginal lactobacillus isolates was inhibited by concentrations of nonoxynol-9 between 0.1% and 1.0%; these were termed sensitive. Of a total of 47 lactobacilli from various sources, 55% were found to be sensitive to nonoxynol-9, being bacteriostatic for 42% of these isolates and bactericidal for the remaining 58% at N-9 concentrations ⩾1.0%. The remaining lactobacilli and 96% (48/50) of uropathogenic organisms had minimal inhibitory concentrations of ⩾25% for nonoxynol-9. Inhibition of the lactobacilli did not appear to be species specific nor related to the source of the lactobacilli. The adhesion of Gram-positive bacteria, namely lactobacilli and enterococci, to HeLa cells in tissue culture was significantly increased over 60 min in the presence of physiologically used concentrations of nonoxynol-9; however, adhesion ofEscherichia coli was not affected. We believe that nonoxynol-9 has the potential to increase susceptibility to urinary tract infection in women using spermicidal preparations for contraception by inhibiting the growth of lactobacilli, which are believed to have a protective function in the vagina, and allowing overgrowth of uropathogenic bacteria.


Foam Tissue Culture Urinary Tract Tract Infection HeLa Cell 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jacqueline A. McGroarty
    • 1
  • Stephanie Chong
    • 2
  • Gregor Reid
    • 1
    • 2
  • Andrew W. Bruce
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Urology, Department of SurgeryUniversity of Toronto, Toronto General HospitalTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of MicrobiologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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