What is it?
The diaphragm or cap is a barrier method of contraception that you place in to the vagina to cover the entrance to the womb before having sex. The cap and diaphragm will need to be fitted by a doctor or nurse initially to show you how to use it correctly and make sure you have the right size, giving you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have. It must be left in place for at least six hours after the last time you had sex, but no more than 30-48 hours depending on the type of diaphragm/cap (including the minimum 6 hours).
Diaphragms and caps must be used with a spermicide.
How do they work?
Diaphragms and caps must be used with a spermicide. The diaphragm or cap works by preventing sperm from reaching the womb, while the spermicide kills sperm. Spermicides come in two varieties, cream or pessary – if you aren’t sure which is best for you, speak to your doctor or nurse.
If you have sex more than 3 hours after putting your diaphragm or cap in, you will have to add extra spermicide.
How effective is it?
If you fit the cap correctly, diaphragms and caps are 92–96% effective when used with spermicide.
What are the benefits?
Only needs to be used when you have sex
Who may not be able to / may not want to use it?
As with any method of contraception, there are some things to consider before deciding on a diaphragm or cap:
You may have vaginal muscles that can't hold a diaphragm/cap
Do you have a cervix of an unusual shape or in an awkward position that can't be reached?
Could you be sensitive to the chemicals in latex or spermicide?
Do you suffer from repeated urinary infections?
Do you have a vaginal infection? Always wait until after the infection has cleared before using the cap/diaphragm as contraception
Have you ever had toxic shock syndrome?
Do you feel comfortable touching your vagina? If not, you may want to think about other options.
Do you have a high risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?
As with all medicines side effects can occur but not all women will experience side-effects. Side effects may include:
Sensitivity to the spermicides or allergies to the latex in the diaphragm/cap
Increased risk of cystitis
I don't know what type of spermicide to use?
If you are unsure which is the best for you, speak to your doctor or nurse.
I want to become pregnant?
If you want to start trying for a baby, you can stop using diaphragms/caps at any time. Ideally you should wait for one period before trying to get pregnant. Waiting means the pregnancy can be dated more accurately, and you can seek some pre-pregnancy advice from your healthcare professional.
Remember: Contact your doctor or nurse if you have any concerns or are worried/ unsure about anything to do with your contraception.
Have you decided which might be the right contraception for you? If not check out the other choices, if you have, jump to Step3: How do I change?