Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Christmas 2008: Food and Drink

Coca-Cola douches and contraception

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 18 December 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a2873
  1. Deborah J Anderson, professor of obstetrics/gynaecology and microbiology1, lecturer in medicine2
  1. 1Boston University School of Medicine, 670 Albany St, Suite 516, Boston, MA 02118, USA
  2. 2Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA
  1. Deborah.Anderson{at}

Deborah Anderson explains why women really shouldn’t rely on Coca-Cola for family planning

Coca-Cola douches were a part of folklore about birth control during the 1950s and 1960s, before effective contraceptive methods were readily available.1 It was rumoured that the acidity of Coca-Cola killed sperm, and the classic coke bottle provided a convenient “shake and shoot” applicator. Recently, an old study from our group confirming the spermicidal effects of various Coca-Cola formulations2 was awarded the 2008 IgNobel prize in chemistry.3 The press releases surrounding our IgNobel award might have repopularised this method, and soft drink douches are apparently still used to prevent pregnancy in resource-poor settings.4 There are, however, many reason why women should not rely on this method.

Coca-Cola is not a strong spermicide

In our study we mixed Coca-Cola with human semen (5:1 ratio) and reported that sperm were immobilised within one minute. A subsequent toxicology …

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