Diaphragm and Caps

What are they?

  • Soft, flexible latex or silicone dome/cup shaped devices that fit in the vagina and cover the cervix (entrance to the womb). Caps are usually smaller.
  • They should be used with a spermicide. 

 How do they work?

  • Act as a barrier preventing sperm from entering the womb thereby stopping fertilisation with an egg.
  • The spermicide kills the sperm. 

What’s great about them? 

  • Quite effective – up to 8 out of 100 women will fall pregnant each year if they are used perfectly. If not used perfectly more women will fall pregnant.
  • You can insert the diaphragm ahead of time (up to six hours before sex) so that it doesn't interrupt sex. 
  • Contains no hormones so no side effects and your period is not affected.
  • You only have to use it when you have sex.

 What’s not so great about them? 

  • Can “interrupt the mood” during sex if it’s not put in beforehand.
  • You should leave it in for at least 6 hours after the last time you had sex. 
  • Extra spermicide is needed if you have sex again.
  • Spermicide can be messy.
  • They are less effective than most methods but better than using nothing. They fail because: device is damaged e.g. torn/has hole; wrong size; doesn’t cover the cervix; spermicide not used consistently; device is removed too soon; use of oil based lubricants which damage the latex.
  • No protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) – condoms advised. 
  • If your body changes in certain ways, you might need a different size diaphragm.
  • The diaphragm cannot be used when you have your period.
  • The latex or spermicide can cause irritation of the penis or vagina and cystitis.
  • Can take time to learn how to use it.

 Where can I get it?

  • Click here to text for an appointment at Chelsea and Westminster Sexual Health service.
  • Family planning clinics, some GPs and other sexual health clinics.

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