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common name for members of the aquatic animal phylum PoriferaPorifera
[Lat.,=pore bearer], animal phylum consisting of the organisms commonly called sponges. It is the only phylum of the animal subkingdom Parazoa and represents the least evolutionarily advanced group of the animal kingdom.
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, and for the dried, processed skeletons of certain species used to hold water. Over 4,500 living species are known; they are found throughout the world, especially in shallow temperate waters. All are marine except the members of six freshwater families.

Adult sponges are sessile, attaching themselves to rocks, coral, shells, and other substrates. They show so little movement that until the 18th cent. naturalists considered them plants. Most adults are colonial. Sexual reproduction gives rise to a free-swimming larva, which soon settles on a suitable substrate and develops into the adult form. Asexual reproduction also occurs. The individual sponge is saclike in construction; water is drawn into its central cavity through many tiny holes in the body wall and expelled through a large opening at the top of the body. Hard materials of various kinds, depending on the type of sponge, are imbedded in the body wall, forming a skeleton. A colony consists of a mass of many such individuals.

Solitary sponges and colonies range in diameter from about 1-2 in. to 5 ft (1–150 cm) and vary greatly in shape. Some are branched, some more or less globular, and some are thin encrustations on rocks and pilings. Brilliantly colored sponges are common. Bath sponges are the skeletons of certain colonial sponges. These skeletons are composed of a fibrous meshwork of spongin, a material related to horn, and owe their absorbent properties to the fineness of the mesh.

Sponges have been used to hold liquid since ancient times. The ancient Greeks used them for bathing and scrubbing, and Roman soldiers used them for drinking. Commercial sponges, species of the genera Spongia and Hippospongia, are harvested principally in the Mediterranean and Caribbean seas and off the Florida coast. They are brought up by divers in deep water, or raked in with long-handled forks in shallow water. They are left in water until the living tissue rots away; the skeletons are then cleaned and dried and sometimes bleached. Sponge fishing has declined in recent decades due to the use of synthetic sponges and to a decline in the population of commercially valuable natural sponges. The block-shaped sponges now commonly sold are the synthetic product. Dried natural sponges are light gray or brown and irregular in shape.


(chemical engineering)
Wood shavings coated with iron oxide and used as a catalyst in processes for removing hydrogen sulfide from industrial gases.
(invertebrate zoology)
The common name for members of the phylum Porifera.


1. any multicellular typically marine animal of the phylum Porifera, usually occurring in complex sessile colonies in which the porous body is supported by a fibrous, calcareous, or siliceous skeletal framework
2. a piece of the light porous highly absorbent elastic skeleton of certain sponges, used in bathing, cleaning, etc.
3. any of a number of light porous elastic materials resembling a sponge
4. porous metal produced by electrolysis or by reducing a metal compound without fusion or sintering and capable of absorbing large quantities of gas


A special case of a Unix filter that reads its entire input before writing any output; the canonical example is a sort utility. Unlike most filters, a sponge can conveniently overwrite the input file with the output data stream. If a file system has file versioning (as ITS did and VMS does now) the sponge/filter distinction loses its usefulness, because directing filter output would just write a new version.

See also slurp.
References in periodicals archive ?
of Milano, Italy, which has manufactured for it and distributes a product known by the trademark name of "Protectaid F-5 Gel", a contraceptive sponge for women.
The researchers discovered that women using the contraceptive sponge or the diaphragm had significantly lower rates of gonorrhea and trichomoniasis than did women who relied on their partner's use of a condom.
Axcan is also active in contraception and in the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases with PROTECTAID(R), a contraceptive sponge.
Category n Sample for this question(*) 909 Currently using any method 722 Currently not using any method 187 Reasons for non-use response (n=187)(*) "None, I'm pregnant" 82 "None, I'm trying to get pregnant" 33 "None, I do not use any method" 72 Responses chosen by women who listed one or more methods (n=722)(*) Condom 319 Intrauterine device (IUD) 244 Pill (oral contraception) 237 Rhythm 171 Withdrawal 124 Vaginal suppository 28 Contraceptive cream/foam/jelly 18 Other 14 Cervical cap 10 Diaphragm with cream/foam/jelly 9 Sterilization (myself) 8 Hysterectomy (menopause) 8 Contraceptive sponge 7 Sterilization (partner) 4 Diaphragm alone 3 Category % Sample for this question(*) -- Currently using any method 79.
The contraceptive sponge, a throwaway diaphragm-like device, has an 11.
During the second quarter, Axcan has signed its second and third licensing agreements for the PROTECTAID(R) contraceptive sponge with Yeong Being Enterprises of Taipei for Taiwan and with Lineafarm of Madrid for Spain.
Another report, in the May 1 JAMA, says that women who usethe nonoxynol-9-impregnated contraceptive sponge are protected against chlamydial infection and gonorrhea, both associated with tubal infertility.
announced today that it has signed agreements to distribute its Protectaid(R) contraceptive sponge in Spain and Macau through Lineafarm of Madrid and in Taiwan through Yeong Being Enterprises located in Taipei.