The diaphragm is a birth control (contraceptive) device that prevents sperm from entering the uterus. The diaphragm is a small, reusable rubber or silicone cup with a flexible rim that covers the cervix. Before sex, the diaphragm is inserted deep into the vagina so that part of the rim fits snugly behind the pubic bone. The diaphragm is effective at preventing pregnancy only when used with spermicide.
A diaphragm is a reusable rubber or silicone cup that covers the cervix. The diaphragm is inserted into the vagina with spermicide before sex to prevent pregnancy.
When used with spermicide, the diaphragm helps prevent pregnancy. Among various benefits, the diaphragm:
The diaphragm isn't appropriate for everyone, however. Your doctor may discourage use of the diaphragm if you:
The diaphragm doesn't offer reliable protection from sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
When using a traditional diaphragm, an estimated 12 out of 100 women will get pregnant in the first year of typical use of the diaphragm. And an estimated six out of 100 women will get pregnant during the first year of use when following usage instructions exactly.
For a newer type of diaphragm — the Caya diaphragm — pregnancy rates are slightly higher, with an estimate that around 17 out of 100 women will get pregnant after one year of typical use.
Consistent and correct use is essential to the effectiveness of either type of diaphragm. For example, you may get pregnant when using a diaphragm if:
Spermicide applied to the diaphragm may damage the cells lining the vagina, causing:
Contact your health care provider if:
The traditional dome-shaped diaphragm comes in different sizes, and you need to be fitted for one by your health care provider. A newer diaphragm option — the Caya diaphragm — comes in one size. To get either type of diaphragm, you need a prescription from your health care provider.
During an office visit, your health care provider will demonstrate how to insert and remove the diaphragm — and may have you practice doing so, too. To confirm that the diaphragm is in the correct position, your health care provider may perform a pelvic exam.
Before you use the diaphragm for the first time, practice inserting the diaphragm until you're comfortable with it. You may want to use a backup method of contraception, such as a male condom, the first few times you use the diaphragm.
Always use the diaphragm with spermicidal cream, foam or gel. Avoid use of body lotions near your vagina and vaginal medications when using the diaphragm. If you're using a diaphragm and douche, wait until at least six hours after sex to avoid washing away spermicide.
Make sure you regularly check your diaphragm for puncture marks or cracks. To search for holes, hold your diaphragm up to the light and gently stretch the rubber between your fingers or fill the diaphragm with water. Replace your diaphragm at least every two years. You may need to have your diaphragm checked and possibly refitted if:
To use the diaphragm:
Before sex, the diaphragm is inserted into the vagina with spermicide. The diaphragm covers the cervix and is held in place by the vaginal walls.