Diaphragm (contraceptive)


Image Caption : Contraceptive Diaphragm : Anteriosuperior view of a diaphragm. A diaphragm is a female mechanical contraceptive that blocks the cervix so sperm cannot enter the uterus. It should be used in combination with a spermicidal agent. A diaphragm is only available with a prescription and needs to be fitted by a doctor. When used correctly, it has a failure rate of 17%. It offers minimal protection against STDs.

Barrier methods - Put up a block, or barrier, to keep sperm from reaching the egg

Diaphragm, cervical cap, and cervical shield

These barrier methods block the sperm from entering the cervix (the opening to your womb) and reaching the egg.

  • The diaphragm is a shallow latex cup.
  • The cervical cap is a thimble-shaped latex cup. It often is called by its brand name, FemCap.
  • The cervical shield is a silicone cup that has a one-way valve that creates suction and helps it fit against the cervix. It often is called by its brand name, Lea's Shield.

The diaphragm and cervical cap come in different sizes, and you need a doctor to "fit" you for one. The cervical shield comes in one size, and you will not need a fitting.

Before having sex, add spermicide (to block or kill sperm) to the devices. Then place them inside your vagina to cover your cervix. You can buy spermicide gel or foam at a drug store.

All three of these barrier methods must be left in place for 6 to 8 hours after having sex to prevent pregnancy. The diaphragm should be taken out within 24 hours. The cap and shield should be taken out within 48 hours.

Office on Women's Health in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Birth Control

Also called: Contraception

Birth control, also known as contraception, is designed to prevent pregnancy. Birth control methods may work in a number of different ways. These include

  • Preventing sperm from getting to the eggs - condoms, diaphragms and intrauterine devices (IUDs) work this way
  • Keeping the woman's ovaries from releasing eggs that could be fertilized - birth control pills work this way
  • Sterilization, which permanently prevents a woman from getting pregnant or a man from being able to get a woman pregnant

Your choice of birth control should depend on several factors. These include your health, frequency of sexual activity, number of sexual partners and desire to have children in the future. Your health care provider can help you select the best form of birth control for you.

NIH: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

The diaphragm is a cervical barrier type of birth control. It is a soft latex or silicone dome with a spring molded into the rim. The spring creates a seal against the walls of the vagina.

It is on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines, the most important medications needed in a basic health system.



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