Monday, February 22, 2010

Contraception - Diaphragms And Caps

Monday 22nd February 2010

Continuing with our short series about contraception today we are going to talk about Diaphragms and cervical caps.

Diaphragms and caps are barrier methods of contraception. They fit inside your vagina and prevent sperm from passing into the entrance of your womb (the cervix).

Diaphragms are soft domes made of latex or silicone. Caps are smaller and are also made of latex or silicone.

To be effective, diaphragms and caps need to be used in combination with spermicide, a chemical that kills sperm.

How effective are diaphragms and caps?

If used correctly and in combination with spermicide, diaphragms and caps are estimated to be 92-96% effective in preventing pregnancy.

There are other more effective contraceptives available, such as the oral contraceptive pill. Some women prefer to use diaphragms or caps because they do not like taking the pill. Others cannot take the pill for health reasons.

Diaphragms and caps only provide limited protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as HIV.

Most women are able to use diaphragms and caps. However, there are some situations and circumstances where they may not be suitable for you. These are listed below.

  • If you have an unusually shaped or positioned cervix.
  • If you have weakened vaginal muscles (possibly as a result of giving birth) that cannot hold a diaphragm or cap in place. However, most women find that if they cannot hold a diaphragm in place, they are able to hold a cap.
  • If you have a sensitivity or an allergy to latex, or the chemicals contained in spermicide.
  • If you have ever had the rare condition known as toxic shock syndrome (a life-threatening bacterial infection).
  • If you have had repeated bouts of urinary tract
    infections (an infection of the urinary system such as the urethra, bladder or kidneys).
  • If you currently have a vaginal infection. You should wait until your infection clears before using a diaphragm or cap.
  • If you are sexually active with multiple partners, which increases the risk of you catching a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

How To Use A Diaphragm or Cap

A diaphragm looks like a small shower cap with a brim. It is flexible so it fits into your vagina easily.

Before you use a diaphragm, you should first cover the sides of it with a small amount of spermicide. This will stop any sperm 'leaking' round the edges of the diaphragm.

Wash your hands and then place the diaphragm high up into your vagina so your cervix is completely covered.

A cap looks like the tip of a male condom, with a thick rim that allows it to stay in place. You should fill one-third of the cap with spermicide, but do not put any on the rim as this could make it difficult for the cap to stay in place. You should then wash your hands.

The cap should fit neatly over your cervix and stays in place through suction. As with the diaphragm, always check that your cervix is completely covered.

Some types of cap require you to put some extra spermicide on them once they are inside your vagina. If you are unsure about whether this applies to your type of cap, speak to your pharmacist or GP.

If the diaphragm or cap is fitted correctly, you or your partner should not be able to feel it during sexual intercourse.

When should I insert a diaphragm or cap?

You can insert the diaphragm or cap up to three hours before you have sex. After this time you will need to take it out and put some more spermicide on it.

You will need to leave your diaphragm or cap in for at least six hours after having sex.

You should not leave a diaphragm or cap in for more than 30 hours as this could cause an infection.

You should avoid having a bath in the six hours after sex as the water could dislodge the diaphragm or cap and wash away the spermicide. Showers are recommended instead.

How do I remove a diaphragm or cap?

The diaphragm or cap can be easily removed by hooking your finger under its rim and pulling it out. Wash it with warm water and mild unperformed soap. Rinse it thoroughly and then leave it to dry.

You will be given a small container that looks much like a make-up compact that you can use to store your diaphragm or cap between uses.

Never boil a diaphragm or cap. You should also not use disinfectant, detergent, or talcum powder to keep it clean, as this could damage it. Check your diaphragm or cap for any signs of damage before you use it.

Most women can use the same diaphragm or cap for a year before they need to replace it. You may need to get a different size diaphragm or cap if you gain or lose more than 3kg (7lb) in weight, or if you have a baby, miscarriage or abortion.

Do not use a diaphragm or cap if you are having your period, as using one during this time has been linked with toxic shock syndrome (TSS) - a potentially fatal bacterial infection.

Diaphragms and caps are an effective contraception. However there are better forms of contraception that are out there for you to use and that is one reason why they are far less popular then the contraceptive pill or condoms.

If you have any questions relating to this or any other or my contraception posts, please feel free to ask in the comments box below. You can remain anonymous and all questions will be answered as soon as possible.


Chris learns about birth control on 24 February 2010 at 02:29 said...

Greetings from Mylot!

Nice informative post. It's the first time I've seen a diaphragm. ;-) It takes me back to sex ed in high school.

So tell me this. Do diaphragms have an impact on sensation and lubrication?

Fay on 24 February 2010 at 13:15 said...

Hi Chris,

Welcome to my world!

What an excellent question. If inserted correctly you nor your partner should be able to feel the diaphragm at all. As for lubrication, well you have to use the diaphragm in conjunction with a spermiscide. The spermiscide will act as a lubricant for you.

Thanks for stopping by!

Chris learning Sex Ed on 24 February 2010 at 14:52 said...

I see. **imagines**

But I guess that's as far as it goes. I don't even thing it's available in Manila.


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