The first-ever written prescription for a contraceptive (barrier method) tampon can be found in the Ebers Papyrus, a compendium of medical practices written in 1550 BC. Modern spermicides are produced in a variety of formulations, including gels, foams, creams, suppositories, pessaries, capsules, foaming tablets and films. Spermicides are relatively inexpensive and widely available over the counter. Most of the currently used spermicides contain the chemical agent (non-ionic detergent) nonoxynol-9. The spermicide 'as a commonly used method' has a very high failure rate (one pregnancy in every four women using this method of contraception for 1 year). Implementation of other, much more effective methods of contraception has made spermicides less and less popular, but recently their potential properties against HIV and STI pathogens (a cause of sexually transmitted diseases) have led to new attention for these products. These properties have been widely evaluated in clinical trials, but the final conclusion does not favor spermicides as the tool for the global fight against HIV/AIDS. There is an urgent need for the invention of a chemical product that, for dual protection, would be administered vaginally before sexual intercourse to kill HIV and other STI pathogens, and at the same time disable or kill sperm. The new era for barrier methods should begin from the development of novel microbicides.