Diaphragms and caps
Control your own contraception with these hormone-free barrier methods.
What are they?
Diaphragms are circular domes made of thin soft rubber or sillicone. Caps are smaller, but all come in different sizes. Both are methods of contraception that fit inside the vagina before sex and cover the cervix. This prevents sperm from getting inside the womb, and is 92-96% effective in protecting against pregnancy (when used correctly, and with a spermicide which you put on the cap/diaphragm). They come in different sizes and must be fitted to suit you.
How are they used?
The diaphragm or cap with spermicide can be self-inserted by the woman up to three hours before sex (if inserted more than three hours before you will need to used more spermicide.) It's painless to fit, and neither partner should be able to feel the device during intercourse. It must then be left in place for six hours afterwards (but no more than 30 hours).
- The diaphragm may also protect against cervical cancer;
- Won't affect hormones or the menstrual cycle;
- Not affected by any medicines;
- No serious health risks.
- They don't protect against STIs - you'll need to use a condom;
- A doctor will sometimes fit you with a practice diaphragm or cap so you can learn how to use it properly. While you are learning, dont rely on it to stop you getting pregnant, you will need to use another method of contraception if you have sex.
- Effectiveness reduced without spermicide;
- First time fitting must be carried out by a doctor or nurse at a sexual health centre/GUM clinic.
Not suitable for
- Women with poor muscle tone in the vaginal area, (the diaphragm is partly held in place by the vaginal muscles);
- A woman or her partner who is sensitive to rubber or spermicide;
- Women who suffer from severe and frequent cystitis;
- Women who have had toxic shock syndrome.
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