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The Contraceptive Diaphragm Explained

By: Jo Johnson - Updated: 10 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
Diaphragm; Contraception; Barrier;

Otherwise known as the cap, the contraceptive diaphragm is either a rubber or silicone device that is used by women as a form of contraception. It was once one of the most popular choices of birth control but seems to be now fading in popularity.

How Does The Diaphragm Work?

A diaphragm is a disc shaped device with a shallow dome, which is worn inside the vagina preventing sperm from accessing the cervix. To maximise this method, it is advised that a spermicide is used in conjunction with the cap, although it must not be oil-based as this can damage the latex in condoms which should also be worn to prevent the spread of infection.

It must be inserted manually before sex and can be squeezed to aid correct placement. A lubricant can be used if needed. If a spermicide is to be used it should be applied to the dome before it is placed.

Benefits of Using the Diaphragm

There is no need to take any pills, injections or implants when using the diaphragm which can make it very attractive for women, especially those who are concerned about the possible links with hormone treatments such as the oral contraceptive pill and increased cancer risks.

Fertility returns to normal immediately after use which can also appeal to younger women who may want to start thinking about starting a family.

Once a woman has her first diaphragm there are no extra costs with the exception of spermicides or condoms which are commonly bought by most sexually active people.

Although it doesn't provide the highest level of birth control as some more modern methods, it is still a fairly good choice if used correctly and if further enhanced by using a spermicidal agent.

Disadvantages Of Using The Diaphragm

Each woman must be assessed to ensure the right sized diaphragm is used for her size and shape. This involves an assessment, often by a nurse which can be found to be quite embarrassing by some, but there is really no need to feel this way.

A new diaphragm may be required if the woman has gained a lot of weight, has just had a baby or suffered a miscarriage of pregnancy.

Some women (and men) can be a little put off by having to insert the cap before sex as it might ruin the atmosphere, but with practice the method can become very quick and even incorporated into foreplay.

Cautions When Using The Diaphragm

  • Always remember to wash your hands before and after handling the cap to make sure bacteria is not passed to the vagina, or from the vagina to other surfaces.
  • If you are changing position when having intercourse, it may be possible for the cap to move as well so it might be worth doing a quick check to make sure it still covers the cervix.
  • To maximise usage, leave the cap in place for up to eight hours after a man has ejaculated, but no longer than 24 hours after sex as this can create a breeding ground for infection.
  • Diaphragms do not provide adequate protection from sexually transmitted infections so please ensure a condom is also used if you think you may be at risk.
  • The diaphragm can be cleaned using warm soapy water and left to dry naturally.
  • Silicone caps will last for up to ten years before they need renewing and rubber varieties will need replacing after around three years.
  • Always check the integrity of the diaphragm before use to ensure it has not become damaged in any way.

If used correctly the diaphragm can be a cheap easy-to-use and more natural form of birth control that uses no natural or artificial hormones.They can last for several years if cleaned and stored correctly and allow women the option of returning to normal fertility immediately.

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This is a very well organised article, well thought out! :)
bobby - 28-Mar-11 @ 9:18 PM
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