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Barrier Contraceptives

[ Male Condom | Female Condom | Diaphragm and Cervical Cap ]
[ Vaginal Contraceptive Sponge | Vaginal Spermicide ]

Diaphragm and Cervical Cap

Cervical Cap
Effectiveness (Theoretical)
Effectiveness (Theoretical)
Effectiveness (Real World)
Effectiveness (Real World)

A diaphragm is a flexible barrier that is intended to fit securely over the cervix. Similarly, the cervical cap is a thimble-shaped rubber or plastic dome which is smaller than a diaphragm. For a correct fit, both require a pelvic examination by a health care provider to determine the size of the cervix.

Before using either of these devices a small amount of spermicidal cream or jelly should be spread inside and along the rim. The diaphragm can be put in place up to two hours before intercourse and must be left in place for at least eight hours after sexual intercourse to give the spermicide sufficient time to kill all the sperm. It can be left in the vagina for up to 24 hours.

Like the diaphragm, the cervical cap may be inserted six hours before intercourse, but may be left in place for up to 48 hours. The cervical cap requires less spermicide and cannot be used during menstruation.

Each must be inserted properly every time to be effective. No additional hormones are introduced into the body and no pills need to be taken daily. Both methods may also help prevent sexually transmitted diseases.

The most common side-effects are bladder infections in women who are prone to them. Diaphragms or cervical caps must be checked periodically by a health care provider to ensure correct fit, particularly after a full-term pregnancy, a miscarriage beyond three months of pregnancy, pelvic surgery, or a weight loss or gain of 10 pounds or more. They may also become dislodged during intercourse, and women with poor muscle tone of the vagina cannot use them. These methods are not recommended for women (or their partners) who may be allergic to the rubber, or the spermicide. The diaphragm or cervical cap may not be readily available at time of intercourse.

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