Vaginal microbicide

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A vaginal microbicide is a microbicide for vaginal use. Most commonly such a product would be a topical gel or cream inserted into the vagina so that it may treat some infection in the vagina, such as types of vaginitis.

Along with rectal microbicides, vaginal microbicides are currently the subject of medical research on microbicides for sexually transmitted diseases to determine the circumstances under which and the extent to which they provide protection against infection. Researchers are trying to develop a product which would act as protection against the contraction of a sexually transmitted infection during vaginal sexual intercourse.

Vaginal microbicides for sexually transmitted diseases[edit]

Scientists are trying to develop effective microbicides to reduce the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection, and in particular, to reduce the risk of contracting HIV.

Target market[edit]

Researchers have investigated who has interest in using a vaginal microbicide. Condoms are highly effective in preventing the transmission of infection, but worldwide, the decision to use condoms is more often a decision made by males than females.[1] A vaginal microbicide which could prevent sexual transmission of infection would further empower women to influence the result of their sexual encounters.[1] The demographic interested in using the produce included women with the following characteristics:[2]

  • use condoms to prevent infection[2]
  • have previously had a sexually transmitted infection[2]
  • have a sexual partner who had another sexual partner in the past year[2]
  • minority group[2]
  • low income[2]
  • unmarried and not cohabiting[2]
  • no steady sexual partner[2]

The number of women interested in using such a product has been characterized as being significant enough to merit product development and marketing.[2]


The ideal vaginal microbicide would have the following characteristics:

  • provide protection against infection[3]
  • not require application at the time of intercourse[3]
  • not harm the natural tissue[3]

The criteria of not harming natural tissue has been the most troublesome aspect of product design.[3]

For HIV[edit]

Several unrelated chemical mechanisms have been proposed for vaginal microbicides. In all cases, the medicine would be contained in a gel or cream substrate and then inserted into the vagina, where the medicine would activate.[1]


The first vaginal microbicide which researchers studied was nonoxynol-9, which acted as a surfactant.[1]

Blocking HIV binding[edit]

PRO 2000, carrageenan, and cellulose sulphate have all been studied as microbicides to block HIV binding.[1]

Topical antiretrovirals[edit]

Tenofovir has been studied as a topical antiretroviral.[1] One example of a tenofovir study is CAPRISA 004.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Weber, J.; Desai, K.; Darbyshire, J.; Microbicides Development Programme (2005). "The Development of Vaginal Microbicides for the Prevention of HIV Transmission". PLoS Medicine. 2 (5): e142. PMC 1140953Freely accessible. PMID 15916473. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0020142. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Darroch, Jacqueline E.; Jennifer J. Frost (January–February 1998). "Women's Interest in Vaginal Microbicides". Family Planning Perspectives. 31 (1): 16. doi:10.2307/2991552. Retrieved 21 November 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d Laurence, Jeffery; Johnston, Rowena (19 February 2009). "The Promise of an Effective Vaginal Microbicide". Retrieved 20 November 2011.