The diaphragm is a dome-shaped rubber cup with a flexible rim. It is used to help prevent pregnancy. Before you have sex, you put contraceptive cream or jelly into the diaphragm and then put the diaphragm into your vagina. The contraceptive cream or jelly contains a chemical that kills sperm (spermicide). The diaphragm covers the cervix, which is the opening into the uterus. The diaphragm and spermicide work together to make a barrier that stops sperm from reaching the uterus.
There are several sizes and types of diaphragms. They may be made from latex or silicone rubber. You need a measurement and fitting by your healthcare provider to make sure that you get a diaphragm that fits correctly. The largest size that feels comfortable should be used.
Put the diaphragm into your vagina no more than 6 hours before you have sex.
You can use water-based lubricants, like KY Jelly, to help you insert the diaphragm. Don’t use oils, lotions, or Vaseline (petrolatum, or petroleum jelly) as lubricants with a diaphragm. They could weaken the material of a latex diaphragm and then the diaphragm might not prevent pregnancy.
If you have sex more than once after putting in the diaphragm, you should put more spermicide into your vagina before each time. Do not remove the diaphragm to do this. A plastic applicator is sold with the spermicide. Use this applicator to put more jelly or cream into your vagina, in front of the diaphragm.
Leave the diaphragm in place for at least 6 hours after you have sex. Remove it as soon after this as possible. A diaphragm should be removed and washed at least once every 24 hours. Do not douche with the diaphragm in place.
To take the diaphragm out, put your index finger in your vagina and hook it under the rim of the diaphragm. Gently pull the diaphragm down and out.
Wash the diaphragm with mild soap and water every time after you have sex. Dry it with a towel and put it in its case. Don’t use powders on the diaphragm. Store the diaphragm in its case away from heat.
Incorrect use of the diaphragm can cause infections. To help prevent infections:
You should get a new diaphragm every 1 to 2 years.
You should check your diaphragm carefully before each use to look for any holes or tears. If there are any holes or tears, use another form of birth control until you get a new diaphragm.
Ask your healthcare provider to check the way your diaphragm fits if you:
Your provider should check the way your diaphragm fits at least every 2 years because the size or shape of your cervix may change.
The benefits of a diaphragm are:
Some of the disadvantages of a diaphragm are:
You should not use a diaphragm if you have ever been diagnosed with toxic shock syndrome. Don’t use a latex diaphragm if you have a sensitivity or allergy to latex.
Talk to your healthcare provider if you have any questions about the use of a diaphragm.