The Cap / Diaphragm
Diaphragms and Caps are barrier methods of contraception usually made from latex. They come in different shapes and sizes so that they fit over your cervix (neck or entrance to your womb). They are used with spermicide to prevent sperm from entering the womb. Spermicides are chemicals that kill sperm.
A doctor or nurse will give you instructions on how to put in, and remove your cap or diaphragm. You are often given a practice cap or diaphragm for a week or more to give you time in private, to find out if this is the right method of contraception for you. The practice caps and diaphragms do not give you any protection from pregnancy and should not be used as a method of contraception.
When you return to see your doctor or nurse, it is a good idea to have put the cap or diaphragm in yourself, at home, so that the nurse or doctor can then check to ensure the size is correct.
If used correctly with spermicides and, according to instructions, latex diaphragms and caps are 92%-96% effective. This means that between 4 and 8 women in 100, will get pregnant in a year. Silicon caps are less effective.
What can make the diaphragm or cap less effective?
- If it is not used every time you have intercourse
- It doesn’t cover your cervix
- You don’t have the correct size. You may need a new size if you put on, or lose, more than 3kg in weight. And also after having a baby, miscarriage or termination of pregnancy.
- You do not use spermicide
- You have sex 3 hours or more after you put it in, and don’t use extra spemicide
- You don’t use extra spermicide every time you have sex
- You remove it too soon (less than 6 hours after the last time you had sex )
- You use oil based products such as baby lotion, bath oils or some vaginal medicine (pessaries). These can damage the latex diaphragms or caps.
- You only have to use it when you have sex
- It can be put in any time before sex.
- There are no serious health risks
- You are in control of your contraception
- You only have to return to our doctor or CaSH service every 12 months or if you lose/gain 3kg or more in weight.
- It may offer some protection from cervical cancer by acting as a barrier
- Some people find them messy and they can interrupt sex
- Can take time and practice to use it correctly
- Some women using the cap or diaphragm can make them prone to cystitis. This can often be overcome by changing to a smaller or softer device but will need a consultation with your nurse or doctor
- Should not be used during a period because of the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome