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Contraception health centre

Cervical cap and diaphragm

Diaphragms and caps are barrier contraception methods that fit inside the vagina and cover the cervix - the entrance to the uterus (womb) - during sex.

They come in come in different shapes and sizes and need to be used with spermicide to be most effective.

What is the cervical cap?

The cervical cap is a thimble-shaped cup made out of a thin, soft latex or silicone material that fits snugly over the cervix and is used for contraception.

How is the cervical cap used?

A third of the cap is filled with spermicide before being inserted into the vagina to cover the cervix. It should be inserted before having sex. The cap covers the cervix to prevent sperm entering the womb and the spermicide kills the sperm. If sex is repeated it is not necessary to reapply the spermicide, but you should check the placement of the cap. Do not remove the cap each time you have sex.

Do not remove the cervical cap for at least six hours after intercourse. The cap can be kept in place for as long as the manufacturer recommends.

Where do I get a cervical cap?

The cervical cap comes in different sizes. You should be fitted for the right size by a trained doctor or nurse.

How effective is the cervical cap?

If used correctly, combined with spermicide, the cap is 92-96% effective in preventing pregnancy.

Does the cervical cap protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?

No. Using a cervical cap and spermicide may not protect against STIs. The best method of safer sex to help avoid STIs is using the male condom.

What is a diaphragm?

A diaphragm is a round piece of flexible rubber with a rigid rim. This is put into the vagina covering the cervix before having sex while also using spermicide.

The diaphragm stops sperm entering the womb with additional protection given by the spermicide.

How effective is a diaphragm?

With the use of a spermicide the diaphragm is 92-96% effective.

How do I use a diaphragm?

Spermicide should be put in and around the rim of the diaphragm no more than two hours before intercourse. The diaphragm is then inserted into the vagina.

The diaphragm can stay inserted if more sex is planned, but extra spermicide should be used each time.

The diaphragm should stay in place for at least six hours after having sex. Recommendations will be given for the maximum time it can stay in before being removed.

Where do I get a diaphragm?

For your first diaphragm, your doctor or nurse will give you a pelvic examination initially so that you receive a diaphragm that fits properly. You may need to have a different size diaphragm if you lose or gain more than 3kg in weight. You can get replacement diaphragms from your GP, family planning clinic or local pharmacy.

Does a diaphragm protect against sexually transmitted infections?

No. Using a diaphragm and spermicide may not protect against STIs.

For safer sex and a lower risk of STIs, the male condom is the best choice.

WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on September 07, 2016

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