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Diaphragm Birth Control Method


Table Of Contents

What is a Diaphragm?

A diaphragm is a piece of dome shaped silicon which is inserted into the vagina, to cover the cervix and reduce the risk of pregnancy.

How does it Prevent Pregnancy?

Diaphragms prevent pregnancy by putting a barrier between the vagina and the cervix, thereby preventing sperm from accessing an egg. If the sperm cannot access an egg, fertilization cannot take place. Without fertilization, pregnancy is not possible.

It is typically used in conjunction with spermicide in order to immobilize sperm and increase effectiveness.

What Are the Benefits?

The benefits are as follows:

  • Easy to use
  • No effect on hormones
  • Can be inserted hours before having sex
  • No prescription required
  • Comfortable to the point of not being noticeable for both partners
  • A one-time purchase, good for up to 2 years
  • Reversible at any time

What Are the Disadvantages?

It may be difficult to insert correctly or quickly.

Some women have difficulty inserting the diaphragm, especially those who are not comfortable touching their vulva or vagina. Some women also have trouble reaching far enough into their vagina to insert it properly. In addition, it can be pushed out of place by heavy thrusting, certain sex positions, or penis sizes. Therefore, adjustments may be required before or during sex and, depending on your size, it may need to undergo refitting.

They may not be right for some women based on the conditions of their vagina or medical history. Speak with your doctor about these concerns before deciding if the diaphragm is right for you.

How Effective are they?

If you use the diaphragm correctly, it is an effective method of preventing pregnancy.

  • Among women who always use them correctly, 6 out of 100 will become pregnant
  • Among women who do not always use them correctly, 12 out of 100 will become pregnant

The diaphragm can be more effective if you:

  • Use spermicide (as recommended)
  • Adjust the diaphragm before each time you have intercourse to ensure it’s covering the cervix
  • Pull out before ejaculation

In addition, a diaphragm does not protect against STD’s. Use a male condom or female condom to reduce the risk of infections.

Is it Safe?

They are safe to use for most women, however certain conditions may put you at a higher risk.

This method may not be right if you have:

  • Sensitivities to spermicide
  • Difficulty inserting it inside yourself
  • Cuts in your vaginal or cervical tissue
  • Poor vaginal muscle tone
  • Frequent reproductive tract infections
  • Cancer of the uterus, vagina or vulva
  • Recnetly had suregery on your cervix
  • Recently given birth or had an abortion
  • History of toxic shock syndrome

If any of the above ring true, you may want to consider other birth control options.

In addition, you should read about the disadvantages and side effects of spermicide before using a diaphragm.

Please contact a health care professional if you have any further questions about safety.

How to Use One


  • Wash your hands with soap and water
  • Apply spermicide to the inside of the dome and around the rim
  • Get in a comfortable position to insert the diaphragm
  • While spreading the labia with one hand, pinch and fold it in half with the other
  • Insert it deep into your vagina until it completely covers your cervix


  • Wash your hands with soap and water
  • To break suction – hook a figure over the top of the rim
  • After breaking suction, easily remove it by pulling it down and out
  • Wash it with warm water and a little soap
  • Air dry it (do not use powder or other materials for risk of infection)
  • Inspect it for holes or weak spots and only reuse if it’s in perfect condition

If you are having trouble inserting or removing, or if you need help with placement, a special inserter can be used. If you are still having trouble, please talk to a health care professional.

For more information on how to use one click here to view step by step instructions with illustrations.

Additional Tips

You can properly maintain your diaphragm by washing it with mild soap and water between uses.

Do not use or wash it with powders or oil based lubricants.

Regularly ensure that your diaphragm is in working order by inspecting it for any holes, cracks or wrinkles. If you find any of these, stop using the diaphragm as it has lost its effectiveness. You can purchase a new one at a clinic or a drug store with a prescription.

The cost of the examination can be anywhere from $0-200 and each diaphragm can average between $0-75. The extra materials needed such as creams, jelly or spermicide will cost $0-17/kit. These prices vary depending on location and medical coverage.

Diaphragms are best used with spermicide and can be combined with condoms for extra effectiveness.

Check out other Birth Control Options and speak with your doctor before deciding on your birth control method.