A diaphragm is a barrier method of contraception. It is a dome-shaped circle made of rubber or silicone that is inserted into the vagina to form a barrier between the sperm and the entrance of a woman’s womb. It requires initial fitting by a doctor or nurse. It must be inserted before sex and should be used with a spermicide. It must be left in for at least 6 hours after sex (and no more than 24 hours).
Diaphragms are 94% effective with “perfect use” and when used with spermicide. This means that 6 women in 100 will get pregnant every year.1
However, because with every day “typical use” they are not always used perfectly, up to 12 women out of 100 in a year will become pregnant.1
- It is an option for women who cannot or do not want to use hormonal contraception
- There are no hormone-related side effects
- You only have to use it when you are having sex
- It does not interfere with sex, and your partner will not be aware of it
- It requires a little practice to use the diaphragm correctly.
- It can cause the vagina to become irritated, and occasionally infection of the bladder
- It should not be used by women with recurring cystitis
- It can interfere with spontaneity
- It does not protect against sexually transmitted infections
You can get a diaphragm from Family Planning Clinics, Well Woman Clinics and some general practices. A trained nurse or doctor must fit it for you. Once you have had a fitting and know your size you can buy additional ones from a pharmacy. Diaphragm fitting is available on the GMS (medical card scheme) but you will have to pay for the device yourself.