Diaphragms and caps are referred to as barrier methods of
contraception. They fit inside your vagina, are covered with
spermicide and cover your cervix. This will stop sperm from
advancing from the vagina into your womb.
There is a variety of types to choose from. Vaginal diaphragms
are circular domes made of thin, soft rubber or silicone with a
bendy rim. Cervical caps look the same but are smaller.
The first time you get your diaphragm or cap a doctor or nurse
will give you detailed instructions on how use it and care for it.
If you follow the instructions correctly diaphragms and caps are
You can get the diaphragm or cap free of charge
- your GP if they provide a contraceptive service.
- another GP rather than your own if you prefer.
- If you happen to know the size and type of diaphragm or cap you
use, you can buy them from a chemist.
You will need to talk to your GP or the doctor or nurse at the
sexual health clinic to see if the diaphragm or cap is the right
method of contraception for you. They will ask you questions about
your contraceptive needs to help you decide your most suitable
- There are no serious health risks associated with using it
- You are in control of your contraception.
- You can put it in any time before you have sex.
- The diaphragm or cap does not interfere with having sex.
- It may give you some protection against cervical cancer and
some sexually transmitted infections.
- It should always be inserted before sex.
- It is not as effective as many other methods.
- The spermicide jelly can be a bit messy, extra spermicide is
needed if you have sex again
- It may take time and practice to learn how to put a cap
- Cystitis can be a problem for some diaphragm users
- The rubber or spermicide can cause an irritation in some women
and their partner.
- Sometimes using a different spermicide may help.
Can anything make a diaphragm or cap less
- You might need to replace it if you lose or gain weight,
following childbirth, miscarriage or abortion.
- If you don't insert it correctly so that it doesn't cover your
- If you forget to use spermicide
- If you don't leave it in for six hours after the last time you
- If the cap or diaphragm is damaged
How often do I need to see a doctor or
You should see a doctor or nurse 3 months after first fitting
then every 12 months to check that your cap or diaphragm still
Help, information and support
If you have any concerns or questions about your cap or
diaphragm speak to your GP.
You can find out more about using a cap or diaphragm at a Sandyford Clinic.