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Diaphragm and Cap

What are diaphragms and caps?

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 such as vaginal diaphragms which are circular domes made of thin, soft rubber or silicone with a bendy rim. Cervical caps look the same but are smaller.

You will need to talk to your GP or the doctor or nurse at Sandyford 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 method.

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.

You can get them free of charge from Sandyford or your GP. If you happen to know the size and type of diaphragm or cap you use, you can buy them from a chemist. Our clinics stock diaphragms and you will usually leave with your chosen method.

How effective is it?

Contraceptive use can either be perfect (always correct) or typical (more accurate, as it’s sometimes difficult to use contraception correctly every time).
With typical use 12 in 100 women experience unintended pregnancy in the first year of use.

What makes it less effective?

  • You might need to replace it if you lose or gain weight, following childbirth, miscarriage or abortion.
  • If it’s not inserted properly. It’s essential your cervix is fully covered.
  • If you forget to use spermicide, or don’t apply more if sex it to take place and it’s been in for more than 3 hours.
  • If you don't leave it in for six hours after the last time you had sex.
  • If the cap or diaphragm is damaged.

How often do i need to see a doctor or nurse?

You should see a doctor or nurse after the initial fitting so they can ensure you have fitted it correctly. If they are happy then you can begin to use this for contraception. Thereafter attend every 12 months to check that your cap or diaphragm still fits.

What are the advantages?

  • 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.
  • There is limited evidence to suggest it gives protection against cervical cancer and sexually transmitted infections. Therefore condoms are also recommended to help protect againest most infections.

Are there any disadvantages?

  • 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 use it.
  • 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.
  • It can’t be used immediately following the birth of your baby. You should wait until at least 6 weeks. 

Only condoms can provide protection against most infections.

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