A contraceptive diaphragm or cap is a barrier method of contraception. It is usually a circular dome made of plastic although they come in different shapes, sizes and materials. It is inserted into the vagina before sex and you need to use it with a gel that kills sperm called spermicide. It's a bit tricky to get the hang of, but some women love it.
What is in the Cap or diaphragm?
A contraceptive diaphragm or cap is a circular dome made of thin,
although they come in different shapes,
sizes and materials. You need to use it with a gel that kills sperm called spermicide. The most common active ingredient of spermicides is nonoxynol-9.
If you attend a sexual health clinic, your healthcare professional can show you how to insert a diaphragm. You need to wash your hands and put two 2cm strips of spermicide on the upper side of the diaphragm. Putting your index finger on the top of it, you then need to squeeze it between your thumb and other fingers and slide it into your vagina. You'll need to check that it's covering your cervix and remove it and start again if not. Check out the NHS guide here.
Are there different contraceptive diaphragm sizes?
The diaphragm comes in one size so does not need to be fitted by a healthcare professional. Caps however come in different sizes. If your weight changes significantly, or you have a baby or miscarriage or abortion, you might need to be fitted for a new cap or diaphragm.
Are diaphragms reusable?
Yes diaphragms are reusable. You'll need to wait at least 6 hours after having sex to remove it, and then wash it with warm water and mild unperfumed soap. After rinsing it thoroughly, you can leave it to dry and keep it in a cool, dry place before using it again.
Do I need spermicide gel for my diaphragm?
Yes all diaphragms should be used with spermicide or contraceptive gel. More spermicide is needed if the diaphragm has been in place for more than 3 hours before you have sex.
Where can I buy a contraceptive diaphragm?
You can buy a contraceptive diaphragm online but it's best to have a face to face appointment with a healthcare professional first, usually at a sexual health clinic as they can prescribe it to you. This is to make sure the size and fit is correct, and that you know how to insert it so it is properly covering your cervix.
How the Cap or diaphragm works:
A contraceptive diaphragm or cap is a reusable barrier method of contraception that is inserted into the vagina before sex. It is covered in spermicide (a gel that kills sperm) and prevents pregnancy by covering the cervix so sperm can’t get into the womb.
There are a few things that can make the diaphragm or cap less effective. These include if it doesn't fit properly, you remove it too early, it is damaged, you forget to use spermicide, or it is used with other oil-based products. f these things happen you may need to use emergency contraception.
How to use the Cap or diaphragm:
To use a cap or diaphragm, you may first need to get it fitted by a doctor or nurse. You'll be shown how to put spermicide on it, and how to squeeze it between your finger and up inside the vagina so your cervix is covered. Don't remove the cap or the diaphragm for at least 6 hours after the last time you had sex. You can then remove the cap or diaphragm by hooking your finger under its rim, loop or strap and gently pulling it down and out. You can leave them in up to 24 hours and once removed and cleaned, they are reusable.
How safe is the Cap or diaphragm:
There is a small chance you could develop toxic shock syndrome if your cap or diaphragm is left in for several days. Some women can also be more likely to develop cystitis, bladder infections or bacterial vaginosis when they use a cap or diaphragm. Some people may also be sensitive to the chemicals in latex or spermicide.
It's important to remember that the cap or diaphragm does not protect you from STIs. Spermicides that contain the chemical nonoxynol-9 may even increase your risk of getting an infection.
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