Diaphragms

The diaphragm is a prescription method of contraception that places a physical and chemical barrier between sperm and egg.

WHAT IS IT?
The diaphragm is a dome-shaped object made of latex to which the user applies a spermicidal cream or jelly. The diaphragm is inserted into the vagina prior to intercourse.

WHERE DO I GET IT?
A woman who wants to use a diaphragm needs to visit her health care provider to be fitted and to obtain a prescription.

HOW DO I USE IT?
A health care provider generally provides a woman with the opportunity to practice inserting and removing a diaphragm before she gets a prescription. The user applies a spermicidal cream or jelly to her diaphragm and inserts it up to two hours prior to intercourse. It is inserted so that it fits at the top of the vagina and covers the cervix. The diaphragm needs to stay in the vagina for six hours after intercourse to keep the cervix covered until all sperm cells have been killed by the spermicide. Additional spermicide must be inserted if the user wants to have intercourse again before it’s time to remove the diaphragm.

WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS?
o Some individuals have a sensitivity or allergy to spermicide.
o Some women who use diaphragms are more prone to urinary tract infections.
o If a diaphragm is left in the vagina for more than 24 hours, it may increase a woman’s risk of developing Toxic Shock Syndrome.

HOW WELL DOES IT WORK?
If a diaphragm is perfectly used, it prevents pregnancy about 95% of the time. When user error is taken into consideration, a diaphragm is about 75% effective in the prevention of pregnancy. If a woman loses or gains a significant amount of weight, or if she has a pregnancy with a vaginal delivery, she may need a different size diaphragm in order for it to be effective. The diaphragm should not be left in the vagina for more than 24 hours.

WHAT ARE SOME ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF THE METHOD?
Advantages of using a diaphragm:
o Women who are unable to use hormone methods of contraception, or who prefer not to, can usually safely use a diaphragm.
o If a diaphragm is properly inserted, the woman or her partner shouldn’t feel it.
o Unlike hormone methods, which need to be used all the time, a diaphragm only needs to be used during intercourse.

Disadvantages of the diaphragm are:
o Some users think using a diaphragm is messy.
o A diaphragm may dislodge during intercourse.
o Women who have very short fingers or are obese may have difficulty inserting and removing a diaphragm.
o Some women may be uncomfortable touching themselves to insert and remove a diaphragm.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
A diaphragm is a very cost effective method of contraception because it is washed and re-used and can last for a couple of years. In clinics like the Family Planning Association, diaphragms cost about $25. In pharmacies, the cost is about $70. The only other cost is the spermicide that must be used with the diaphragm. How often a woman will need more spermicide depends on how often she has intercourse.