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Description of the Diaphragm:

A diaphragm is a re-useable shallow latex cup that has a flexible rim and covers the cervix, preventing sperm from getting inside. It must be used in conjunction with a spermicide cream or jelly. You need to be fitted for a diaphragm by a health care provider. To be fitted your doctor will try different sized rings and pick the one that is fits most comfortably. There are different styles of diaphragms that you can speak to your doctor about.

How to Use the Diaphragm:

You can insert your diaphragm up to two hours prior to intercourse. Most people suggest practicing before the first time you’re going to use it for sex with a partner. At first it can be awkward, but it is easier with practice. Follow the instructions given to you carefully. You must keep your diaphragm in for 6-8 hours after intercourse.

Failure Rates for the Diaphragm:

Reports on effectiveness range from 84% to 95% effective when used with spermicide. A common cause for failure is an improperly fitted or inserted diaphragm, or using a diaphragm without spermicide jelly or cream.

Cost of the Diaphragm:

There may be a cost for the fitting depending on what services are available to you. The diaphragm can cost anywhere from $15-$50 depending on where you purchase it. There is also the cost of spermicide jelly or cream.

Where To Get the Diaphragm:

You need to be fitted for a diaphragm, and over time you may need to be refitted for a new diaphragm. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, but some places suggest you can use a diaphragm for up to two years.

Side Effects of the Diaphragm May Include:

  • Vaginal irritation
  • Bladder infections
  • Allergic reactions to the rubber material
  • Allergic reaction to the spermicide

Things to Watch Out for with the Diaphragm:

  • The spermicide used has a bad taste and it may leak out during insertion. If you’re going to have oral sex you may want to wipe away any extra spermicide on your genitals.
  • Spermicide use is not recommended for women at high risk of HIV infection.
  • Some types of sex play may dislodge the diaphragm. If your diaphragm moves during intercourse you should consider emergency contraception and see a doctor.
  • Diaphragms are not recommended for women who have had Toxic Shock Syndrome.

Going Off the Diaphragm:

One of the major benefits of a diaphragm is that it has no impact on your hormones or menstrual cycle, and going off it is as easy as stopping using it as your form of birth control.

Contraception Information on About.com:

The following information is compiled from a variety of sources, including the CDC, information from drug manufacturers, Planned Parenthood, and Family Health International.

We strive to keep this information up to date, but new studies and information about side effects and effectiveness may not be reflected immediately in this information. This should be used as a guide only, and a health care professional should be consulted when considering a new or changed contraceptive method.

Updated December 18, 2005.

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