YOU CAN LEAVE YOUR HAT ON
The diaphragm is flexible dome-shaped disc made from latex rubber or silicone. It is inserted into the vagina to form a barrier between the sperm and the entrance of the womb. Your healthcare provider will need to do an initial fitting to find the right size of diaphragm for you. Note that the diaphragm doesn't get its efficacy rate alone; it is highly recommended to combine it with spermicide for optimum effectiveness.
The diaphragm needs to be inserted into the vagina prior to sex. Start by washing your hands. Fill the diaphragm up with spermicide and spread some around the edges too, as a precautionary measure. Fold the diaphragm in half and, as you would a tampon slide it up into your vagina and then push it right up until it's covering your cervix. The diaphragm must be left in the vagina for at least 6 hours after sex and not more than 24 hours in total. If you have sex more than once you need to use more spermicide every time you have intercourse. From time to time, check the diaphragm for any damages and replace it if necessary.
PROS / CONS
- It can be used on demand
- It can easily be carried with you
- It isn’t affected by other medications
- It can be used when breastfeeding
- Hormone free
- Using it can take practice
- It requires keeping track of the hours inserted
- Not always suitable for women who have given birth
- Needs spermicide to be fully effective
- It can interfere with spontaneity
- It requires initial fitting by healthcare provider
- It may cause irritation, allergic reactions, and urinary tract infection
- If you keep it in place longer than 24 hours, there is a risk of toxic shock syndrome. Toxic shock is a rare but serious infection
- Does not protect against HIV infection (AIDS) and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Most spermicides have an unpleasant taste but will not usually harm you or make you feel ill, however it is advisable to avoid swallowing excessive amounts. If you are concerned about feeling ill following swallowing some spermicide, you should seek the advice of a healthcare provider.
A pelvic examination by either a physician or a skilled healthcare provider is required for fitting diaphragms. Fitting rings are produced by diaphragm manufacturers in various sizes and with different rim types. Sizes range from 50 to 105 mm. They are most commonly available in flat spring or coil spring rim types. Diaphragms between 60 -85 mm in diameter will provide the correct fit for most women. Initially the fitting ring size is estimated by clinical assessment of the vaginal length. Smaller or larger sizes are then inserted until the correct fit is achieved. It is important that each individual is fitted with the type of rim that she will ultimately use as the rim type can affect fit and ease of insertion. It should fit snugly into the upper half of the vagina. The user should practice insertion under supervision and placement should be inspected to ensure that the fitting ring is correctly positioned in the vagina. Fitting is best done when the bladder is not empty so that the user can test to ensure that urination is easily accomplished with the selected fitting ring in place. The diaphragm may require resizing following a full-term pregnancy, pelvic surgery, or abortion, or if there is a major change in weight.
A diaphragm should be removed no sooner than 6 hours after intercourse and can be left in place for up to 24 hours after intercourse. Additional spermicide is required with subsequent acts of intercourse. If more spermicide is required it should be placed in the vagina and the diaphragm should be left in place.
Spermicides contain substances that kill sperm. Some products also form a thick foam or mucus which blocks the cervix and acts as a barrier against the sperm. They can come in the form of foam, foaming tablets, pessaries, creams, jellies and sponges. Spermicides are not effective enough when used alone, and should be used in combination with barrier methods such as the diaphragm or cap.
The diaphragm can be inserted immediately before or up to 6 hours before intercourse. Some people do find that this might interfere with spontaneity.