Find a contraceptive that suits you can be a real challenge, particularly as there are so many on the market these days.
One kind of contraception that has been around for a while now is the diaphragm.
The diaphragm is a bit of a classic contraceptive, it might even have been the one your mum used back in the day. So is it also a good choice for you? We’ll try and give you all the information you need to know about the diaphragm to make that decision. That way, you can go and talk to your doctor about whether it’s going to suit you with some of the facts already under your belt.
What Is A Diaphragm And How Does It Work?
A diaphragm is a shallow, dome-shaped cup that has a flexible ring and is usually made from silicone. You insert the diaphragm into your vagina, and once it is properly in place it covers the cervix, thereby preventing pregnancy. The diaphragm prevents pregnancy by keeping sperm from meeting the egg, but in order to be as effective as possible, a spermicide should also be used. The spermicide essentially stops the sperm from moving, offering another layer of protection against pregnancy.
The diaphragm must stay in place for six hours after the last time you had vaginal intercourse. If you have sex again, or you have sex more than six hours after you inserted the diaphragm, leave the diaphragm in place but put more spermicide up into your vagina. Don’t leave the diaphragm in for more than 24 hours.
Inserting And Removing It?
It does take a little practice to get adjusted to inserting and removing the diaphragm, but most women find it easy to learn. When you first get your diaphragm, your healthcare provider will show you how to use it, but you should practice a few times at home as well.
In order to insert the diaphragm, make sure you have clean hands. Put about a tablespoon of spermicide in the diaphragm, spreading some around the rim. Get into a comfortable position that provides you access to your genitals and then separate the lips of your vulva with one hand. Fold the diaphragm in half by pinching the rim with your other hand and push the diaphragm as far back into the vagina as possible. You’ll want to tuck it behind your pubic bone to ensure your cervix is covered.
To remove the diaphragm, which you can only do a minimum of six hours after you have sex, wash your hands, hook a finger over the top of the diaphragm’s rim to break the suction and pull the diaphragm down and out. Remember, you should not leave the diaphragm in place for more than 24 hours.
Benefits Of The Diaphragm
There are a number of benefits for users of the diaphragm, including:
- It’s easily carried around,
- You can use it while breastfeeding,
- It is rarely felt by you or your partner,
- It doesn’t affect your hormones,
- It’s effective as soon as it’s inserted, and is easily reversible, and
- You can insert it hours before you need it, meaning it won’t interrupt sex.
Of course just as there are benefits, there will also be some difficulties associated with any contraceptive. For the diaphragm, these include:
- Difficulty inserting the diaphragm,
- Potential for the diaphragm to be pushed out of place by some penis sizes, heavy thrusting and certain positions,
- The need for it to be in place every time a woman has sex, and
- The need for the diaphragm to be refitted after pregnancy, abdominal or pelvic surgery, miscarriage or abortions, and significant weight change.
Women who use diaphragms are also at risk of developing urinary tract infections and vaginal irritation from either the silicone or the spermicide.
Taking Care Of Your Diaphragm
If you really take care of your diaphragm, it can last up to two years, which makes it a highly affordable contraceptive method for women on a budget. In order to extend the life of your diaphragm as much as possible, following a simple care method is a must.
After removing your diaphragm, always wash it in warm water with a mild soap and allow it to air dry. Do not use any kind of powders or oil-based lubricants on your diaphragm. The powders can cause infection and the oil-based lube can damage the silicone of the diaphragm. You should examine your diaphragm regularly to make sure there are no holes or weak spots, which will mean it is no longer effective. Use a light to look for ‘thin’ sections of the silicone, or fill the cup up with water and check for leaks. When there is is any thinning, holes or damage, you’ll need to get a new diaphragm.
How Effective Is It?
Effectiveness is always going to be the main selling point on a contraception.
Like many contraceptives, the diaphragm’s effectiveness is impacted by ideal and ‘real world’ use. For women who always use the diaphragm as directed, around 6 of every 100 will get pregnant in a single year. For those who don’t always use it as directed, that number is 12 in every 100. To make the diaphragm effective you must ensure that it covers your cervix before you have sex, and use a spermicide as well. For maximum effectiveness, condoms or the pull out method is also worth considering.
To make the diaphragm effective, you must ensure that it covers your cervix before you have sex, and use a spermicide as well. For maximum effectiveness, condoms or the pull out method is also worth considering.