Diaphragm and Cap

A diaphragm or cap is a circular dome made of thin, soft latex (rubber) or silicone. The dome is inserted into the vagina before sex. A cap is a smaller version of the diaphragm.

It is good for young people to know about the whole range of contraceptives. However diaphragms and caps are better used by women who are older or can’t use hormonal methods, as they can easily be used wrongly.


How do they work?

A diaphragm or cap is inserted into the vagina before sex, and covers the cervix to prevent sperm from entering the womb. It is important to use spermicide with it (spermicides kill sperm). The diaphragm must be left in place for at least six hours after sex. After that time you take out the diaphragm and wash it, as they are re-useable.

Diaphragms come in different sizes. You must be fitted for the correct size by a trained doctor or nurse.

How effective are they?

If used correctly with spermicide, diaphragms and caps are 92-96% effective. This means that between four and eight women out of every 100 who use a diaphragm as a contraceptive will become pregnant in a year.

Added benefits?

> There are no serious health risks, and you only have to think about it when you have sex.

> You can put them in several hours before you have sex.

What else should I know?

> It can take time to learn how to use them. Some women develop cystitis when they use diaphragms. Your doctor or nurse can check the size (switching to a smaller size may help).

> If you lose or gain more than 3kg (7lbs) in weight, have a baby, miscarriage or termination, you may need to be fitted with a new diaphragm or cap.

By using condoms as well as other contraception, you'll help to protect yourself against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).