Diaphragm with spermicide

A diaphragm is a dome-shaped rubber cap with a flexible rim that fits over your cervix. It's used along with spermicidal foam, cream or jelly to block sperm from reaching the egg. Diaphragms come in different sizes, so you need to be fitted by your health care provider in order to use one.

The cervical cap is a similar method of birth control, but it's more difficult to insert and isn't recommended for women who've had children.


The diaphragm is available by prescription, as is the cervical cap. Spermicide is available over the counter.

How it's used

You insert the diaphragm into your vagina one to two hours before intercourse. Before insertion, you must apply spermicide to the rim and center of the diaphragm. After intercourse, you must leave the diaphragm in place for at least six hours but not more than 24 hours. If you have sex again within those 24 hours, first insert more spermicide into your vagina without removing the diaphragm.


Diaphragms with spermicide are 84 percent effective, meaning 16 out of 100 women who use this method as birth control for a year will become pregnant. For women who haven't had children, cervical caps are 82 percent to 94 percent effective. Cervical caps have decreased effectiveness (60 percent to 80 percent) when used by women who've had children.

Issues to consider

If you used a diaphragm before you were pregnant, you may need to be refitted after your child is born because your vaginal size may have changed. Diaphragms with spermicide don't protect you against STDs. Previously, spermicide with the ingredient nonoxynol-9 was believed to offer some protection against gonorrhea and chlamydia, but recent studies show that this isn't the case and that it may in fact increase the risk of HIV transmission. Spermicide may also cause vaginal irritation in some women.

100 Pregnancy Tips

100 Pregnancy Tips

Prior to planning pregnancy, you should learn more about the things involved in getting pregnant. It involves carrying a baby inside you for nine months, caring for a child for a number of years, and many more. Consider these things, so that you can properly assess if you are ready for pregnancy. Get all these very important tips about pregnancy that you need to know.

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