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Sexual health > Contraception

Contraception and the diaphragm.

Hi, I'm having to come off the pill for a while for the veins in my legs. I've heard about the diaphragm and was wondering if it would be suitable for me.

You're right to come off the pill if you're showing signs of varicose veins, the oestrogen won't help.
The diaphragm is certainly a possibility.
It is the fourth most popular form of contraception for couples, but has recently lost popularity due to more advanced versions of the hormone coil. It was invented in 1882 by a Dr Mesinga.
How to use it:
The diaphragm is dome-shaped, with a thick, rigid rim. The details change according to the brand, and you will need to select a size which fits you, somewhere between 5.5cm and 9.5 cm.
It fits at the top of the vagina, to form a barrier across the cervix, or neck of the womb, which prevents sperm from getting through to fertilise an egg. It is usually made of polysiloxane elastomer, a very strong material used in medicine that is well tolerated by the body and does not cause allergies. The thick rim allows you to take it out easily with a finger.
It might take a little while to learn how to put it in, but once you know your body, you'll have no trouble. The first time, it will be done by a doctor or sexual health nurse, who will try a few different sizes to find the right one for you and show you how to put spermicide cream on first, which must be reapplied every time you have sex.
You must leave it in for six to eight hours after you have had intercourse for it to be effective - but don't leave it for longer than 12 hours. You can put it in up to two hours before intercourse, but you must take it out and wash it at least once every 24 hours.
Efficiency: If used correctly, the diaphragm has similar statistics to other forms of contraception, between 97 and 98%.
Be careful of your partner removing his penis too early, as you would when using condoms.
A completely harmless form of contraception, unlike latex, the materials used in diaphragms do not cause allergies, it's know as the 'ecological' contraceptive. Once you've mastered how to put it in, you'll find it easy to use, which makes it a great choice for women who want to control their own contraception without using hormones or implants. One diaphragm lasts about a year.
It takes time to get the hang of putting it in.
Some women find they don't like the idea of putting their fingers in their vaginas, or never develop the right technique for putting it in and can't use it. Seek medical advice if you have any malformations in that area, lack of muscle tone, dropped organs, infections of the vagina or womb or have recently given birth.
The contraceptive sponge works like a single-use diaphragm, but is less effective. It can be kept in for up to 24 hours.
Very occasionally, the diaphragm can cause abdominal pain, which is usually a reaction to latex, which is why it is best to go for a polysiloxane elastomer option. You risk infection if you leave it in for longer than 24 hours.

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