Diaphragm or Cap
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 6 out of 100 women will become pregnant each year if they are used perfectly and consistently. If not used perfectly more women will become pregnant (12 in 100)
- You can insert the diaphragm ahead of time (up to three 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?
- Sexual Health services.
- Family planning clinics
- Some GP practices