Diaphragms are domes made of soft silicone. You insert them into your vagina before sex to cover the cervix, so that sperm cannot get into the womb. You need to use spermicide with them, which kills the sperm. They are useful for women who do not want to use a hormonal or long lasting contraceptive.
The new diaphragm can be purchased from pharmacies. It comes in one size only and therefore does not need to be fitted by a healthcare professional. However, you may wish to visit your local sexual health clinic to discuss how you should fit it.
*for typical use (effectiveness for perfect use 86-96%)
With clean hands, put a small amount of spermicide on each side of the diaphragm. Slide the cap diaphragm into your vagina, so it covers your cervix.
The diaphragm will stop sperm from reaching an egg by covering your cervix while the spermicide kills any sperm.
You have to leave your diaphragm in for 6 hours after you’ve finished having sex.
Some women find they get a bladder infection or some irritation from using a diaphragm, or from the spermicide.
The diaphragm does not protect you against STIs, so you may need to use condoms as well.
You can buy diaphragms from pharmacies and some online stores.
The diaphragm may not be suitable if you:
It can take time to learn how to use them.
Before use, check your diaphragm regularly for tears or holes by holding it up to the light and having a good look at it. Be careful with your fingernails and jewellery. If your diaphragm goes out of shape, squeeze it gently back into its circular shape.
Your diaphragm may become discoloured. Don’t worry, this will not make it less effective.
After use, you can wash your diaphragm with warm water and mild, unperfumed soap. Rinse it thoroughly, then leave to dry. You will be given a small container for it, which you should keep in a cool, dry place.
Never boil your diaphragm, never use disinfectant or detergent to clean it or use talcum powder with it.
You can get spermicide from a pharmacy or your local sexual health clinic.
The diaphragm can become less effective at preventing pregnancy if:
If any of these things happen, or you have had sex without contraception, you may need emergency contraception.
If you think you may have been exposed to HIV, you can take preventative medication (PEP) to reduce the chance of becoming infected.
To make an appointment or for further advice, please call:
Phoneline open 08:15-16:45 Monday-Friday
(closed 12:30-13:30 for lunch)