Note: Information provided on this page is for general education only, please seek medical assistance when in doubt
The diaphragm is a cervical barrier type of birth control. It is a soft latex or silicone dome with a spring molded into the rim. The spring creates a seal against the walls of the vagina.
Anyone inserting or removing a diaphragm should first wash their hands to avoid introducing harmful bacteria into the vaginal canal. The rim of a diaphragm is squeezed into an oval or arc shape for insertion. A water-based lubricant usually spermicide may be applied to the rim of the diaphragm to aid insertion. One teaspoon or about 5 ml of spermicide may be placed in the dome of the diaphragm before insertion, or with an applicator after insertion.
The diaphragm must be inserted before sexual intercourse, and remain in the vagina for 6 to 8 hours after a man's last ejaculation. For multiple acts of intercourse, it is recommended that an additional 5 ml of spermicide be inserted into the vagina before each act. Upon removal, a diaphragm should be cleansed with warm mild soapy water before storage. The diaphragm must be removed for cleaning at least once every 24 hours and can be re-inserted immediately.
Oil-based products should not be used with latex diaphragms. Lubricants or vaginal medications that contain oil will cause the latex to rapidly degrade and greatly increase the chances of the diaphragm breaking or tearing.
Natural latex rubber will degrade over time. Depending on usage and storage conditions, a latex diaphragm should be replaced often mostly every year. Silicone diaphragms may last much longer and some can up to ten years.
Like all cervical barriers, diaphragms may be inserted several hours before use, allowing uninterrupted foreplay and intercourse. Most couples find that neither partner can feel the diaphragm during intercourse.
The diaphragm does not interfere with a woman's natural cycle, therefore, no reversal or wait time is necessary, if contraception is no longer wanted or needed.
Diaphragms come in different sizes. A fitting appointment with a health care professional is necessary to determine which size a woman should wear. Diaphragms should be re-fitted after a weight change of 4.5 kg (10 lb) or more
The diaphragm is less expensive than many other methods of contraception.