Practical tips for using home pregnancy tests, for maximizing the hygienic effects of spermicides, and for minimizing the risk of toxic shock syndrome during use of contraceptive sponges are summarized here. All home pregnancy tests are comparable in accuracy: they differ in cost, type of read out and clarity of instructions. The most important tips to follow are to read directions and to wait 10 days after the missed period. It is best to do 2 tests, to visit a physician if the results differ, to continue contraception even if the first test is negative. Be wary of factors that may influence the result, such as drug intake, stress, weight loss and athletic training. Toxic shock syndrome, indicated by fever above 102 degrees Farenheit, brief rash, very low blood pressure, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain and later by peeling skin on hands and feet, is not associated unduly with using sponges. Those who have had toxic shock, or are menstruating, should not use sponges, nor should anyone wear one for more than 30 hours continuously. Spermicides, whether in foams, suppositories, creams, films or jellies, help to kill organisms causing sexually transmitted gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and pelvic infections. Their effectiveness is increased by consistent use such as adhering strictly to time limitations on the label, tabulated in this newsletter.
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