The diaphragm or cap

Published by Sarah Horrocks
Published on 18 September 2008

The diaphragm is a flat latex disc (forming a cap) that varies between 5.5cm and 9.5cm in diameter. It is inserted into the vagina up to the cervix, blocking the entrance to sperm. Find out all about it here.

What is it?

The diaphragm is a flat latex disc (forming a cap) that varies between 5.5cm and 9.5cm in diameter. It is inserted into the vagina up to the cervix, blocking the entrance to sperm. However, it is possible to use spermicide (cream or foam) placed inside the diaphragm, so that any sperm that manages to get through is stopped by the spermicide. It is inserted before sexual intercourse and then it needs to be kept in for 6 hours afterwards. The first time it is inserted by a doctor, then you can do it yourself.

The advantages

It’s simple: insert the cap just before sex, you don’t need a doctor and you don't have to take any medication. You’re independent and in control. The cap is discreet, 97% reliable and respects your body's natural cycle.

The disadvantages

You need to know your body well! Some young women may struggle inserting the diaphragm into their vagina. Also, inserting it can be a pain and interupt you in the heat of the moment.
The first time you insert the diaphragm yourself, use another form of contraception as well, just until you’re sure you've got it right. Your partner must not use a condom as well, because the rubbing of the two materials can make them tear, leaving you unprotected. Note that the diaphragm does not in any case protect you against STDs, so if you're unsure of your partner, use condoms instead!

How do you get it?

First make an appointment with your GP who will adjust a diaphragm to your body shape and size. You'll need to see the doctor again if you have a baby, abortion, miscarriage, gain or lose more than 5kg or suffer any discomfort.

Who is it most suitable for?

This form of contraception is particularly suitable for women who don’t want to use hormonal contraceptives such as the Pill or coil. It can be used by all women, whether they have children or not. It is also recommended for women who don’t have regular sex.