Getting Pregnant

Diaphragm Contraceptive – A Birth Control Method

A dependable means of contraception is something every couple should spend some time on identifying, as it helps them take control of when they want to have children, besides protecting both partners from sexually transmitted diseases. A diaphragm or female contraceptive device is fast becoming popular for its convenience, affordability and reliability. Read on for all you need to know about it.

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What Is a Diaphragm?

A diaphragm is one of the methods of contraception used by women. It is a dome-shaped device made of silicone, latex or rubber, which you may insert into your vagina before having sex to prevent pregnancy. The diaphragm covers your cervix and blocks sperm from entering the cervix. A diaphragm should be used along with spermicidal jelly or cream, which is effective in killing the sperms that reach the rim of the diaphragm.

Is the Diaphragm Safe?

The diaphragm is an extremely safe form of female contraceptive. However, if you notice the following symptoms, you should get in touch with your doctor:

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  • If you feel uncomfortable after using the diaphragm.
  • If you feel a burning sensation after you pee.
  • If you notice your vagina is itchy or sore to touch.
  • If you notice any bleeding after using a diaphragm.
  • If you notice any unusual discharge from your vagina.

Effectiveness of a Diaphragm

The diaphragm is an extremely safe form of female contraceptive. If the diaphragm is used correctly and regularly, it is effective in 94% of the cases. This means that there is a 6% chance of pregnancy, even if a diaphragm is used correctly. This happens because most people do not follow the directions properly or use it every time during sex. Therefore, it is important to use it correctly to make it more effective.

How to Make Diaphragm More Effective?

  • Place your diaphragm before you have sex.
  • Use your diaphragm every time you have sex.
  • Use spermicidal gel or cream with your diaphragm.
  • Place your diagram correctly to cover your cervix.
  • You may also use another method of contraception with it, such as a condom, or your partner may pull out before ejaculation.

Who Can Opt for a Diaphragm?

All women can opt for a diaphragm as an effective method of birth control. However, if you have medical conditions such as vaginal infection, UTI, unusually shaped cervix or other such conditions, you should refrain from using diaphragm. It is advised to seek your doctor’s advice before opting for any method of contraceptive.

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How to Insert a Diaphragm?

You may insert a diaphragm in your vagina in many positions, such as standing, sitting, squatting or lying down position. Once you get into the position, you may follow these steps on how to use a diaphragm:

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  • Clean your hands using water and soap.
  • Take some spermicidal gel or cream and rub it off the diaphragm.
  • Make use of one hand to open up your vagina and the other hand to fold the diaphragm in half, with the dome pointing downwards.
  • Push the diaphragm as far as you can into your vagina. You may aim towards the tailbone while pushing.
  • Make use of your finger to tuck the rim of the diaphragm behind your pelvic bone. The diaphragm should be covering your cervix, which feels like the tip of your nose.

You can put your diaphragm in two hours before having sex. It is advisable to reapply spermicidal gel if you are having sex later than two hours after inserting the diaphragm, as the spermicidal gel or cream loses its efficacy after two hours. If you have sex again before taking out the diaphragm, it is advised to reapply spermicidal gel or cream again. You should not leave your diaphragm inside your vagina for more than 24 hours.

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How to Remove a Diaphragm?

It is recommended to keep the diaphragm in place for almost 6 hours after sex. However, a diaphragm should not be kept in the vagina for more than 24 hours. Taking out or removing a diaphragm is comparatively easier, here’s what you need to do:

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  • Insert a finger into your vagina and hook over the top of the rim. This would break the suction.
  • You may gently pull out down your diaphragm.

How to Take Care of the Diaphragm?

Here’s what you should do to take care of your diaphragm:

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  • You should wash it with mild soap and warm water after every use.
  • You should let it dry.
  • You should refrain from using any powder on your diaphragm as it may lead to infections.
  • You should not use oil-based products such as Vaseline or other creams, as they may damage your diaphragm.
  • You should store it in a clean place, away from direct sunlight and heat.
  • You should check for any holes, cracks or wrinkles.

Where Can You Get a Diaphragm, and How Much Does It Cost?

You may get a diaphragm at any drugstore, pharmacy or health centre. You will need a prescription from your doctor or nurse to buy a diaphragm, as it does not come in one size that fits all. The doctor or the nurse has to do a pelvic examination to check the size of your diaphragm. On average, a diaphragm may cost about Rs. 50. It will need to be used with a spermicide cream which may cost around Rs. 500.

Advantages of Diaphragm

Using a diaphragm has many advantages. Some of the advantages include:

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  1. You can insert it hours before intercourse.
  2. You can control this method of contraception without your partner’s support.
  3. You can easily use the same diaphragm for up to two or more years.
  4. You need to use it only when you want to have sex.
  5. It has fewer side effects as they do not contain hormones.
  6. It does not hamper your menstrual cycle.

Disadvantages of Diaphragm

There are some risk factors or disadvantages associated with diaphragm usage, such as:

  1. Using spermicidal gels can be a messy affair and may cause irritation.
  2. It needs to be used every time you have sex, and you need to use it correctly.
  3. It can trigger allergic reactions because of rubber or spermicidal gel.
  4. It may irritate the bladder and can cause infection.
  5. It is difficult to use for women who are not comfortable with touching their vagina.
  6. The size of your diaphragm may keep changing due to changes in your body (childbirth, weight gain, etc.).

Do All Diaphragms Come in the Same Size?

No, all diaphragms do not come in the same size. Your doctor will help you know the size of your diaphragm after conducting a pelvic examination. Your doctor may use various fitting rings or diaphragms to establish the correct size for you. You may also be told about the correct technique of using the diaphragm.

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Does a Diaphragm Protect Against STDs?

A diaphragm provides effective protection from pregnancy and some toxins, such as nicotine, that may be found in your partner’s sperms by covering the cervix. However, diaphragms are not effective in protecting against STDs or STIs, including HIV, as the mucus membrane of the vagina is fully exposed to the infections during sex. It is recommended to use a condom along with a diaphragm to get maximum protection against STDs.

Can You Use a Diaphragm While Breastfeeding?

Yes, you may use a diaphragm while breastfeeding your baby. Unlike contraceptive pills, it does not rely on hormones and thus does not affect your breast milk production. It is a great choice for contraception for breastfeeding mothers.

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How Soon After Childbirth You Can Use Diaphragm?

You may use a diaphragm as early as six weeks after giving birth if your vaginal muscles are strong enough to hold the diaphragm. To check the strength of your vaginal muscles, you may seek advice or help from your doctor. If your vaginal muscles are still weak, you may have to wait longer to use diaphragm.

You may have to get a new diaphragm for yourself after childbirth, as there may be a change in size. In the meantime, you may use other methods of contraception.

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What Do You Do If the Diaphragm Is Disloged During Sex?

If, during intercourse, your diaphragm becomes dislodged, then there is a substantial risk of pregnancy. You may insert more spermicidal cream or jelly inside your vagina immediately after sex. However, this may not be the sure-shot way of preventing pregnancy. The most effective way of preventing pregnancy in this case will be using an emergency contraceptive. It is recommended to use it as soon as possible. It is best to seek assistance from your doctor if you have concerns regarding pregnancy.

How to Know When You Need a New Diaphragm?

A diaphragm can be used for up to two years if it is in a good state. It is important that you check it regularly for any signs of deterioration. If you notice any cracks, holes or wrinkles on it, it is advised to change it. You should carry your diaphragm with you for your annual medical checkups.

It is recommended to get your diaphragm checked if you have gained weight or undergone pelvic surgery, abortion or childbirth, as these may result in a change in the size or shape of your cervix.

Can You Use Diaphragm During Periods?

No, it is not recommended to use a diaphragm during your periods or if you are experiencing any vaginal bleeding. This is because the usage of a diaphragm during your periods may increase your chances of having toxic shock syndrome, which is a fatal medical condition.

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Can You Use Diaphragm If You Are Using Vaginal Medicines?

If you are using vaginal medicines, then you should refrain from using rubber diaphragms. Vaginal creams and ointments usually contain oil-based ingredients, and these ingredients may damage the diaphragm made of rubber or latex. However, you may use a diaphragm made of silicon, or you may use other methods of contraception.

Who Should Avoid Using Diaphragm?

A diaphragm birth control can be used by most women; however, it may not be suitable for you, or you should avoid using a diaphragm under the following circumstances:

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  • If your vaginal muscles are weak, are cannot hold the female diaphragm in its proper place (mostly because of childbirth)
  • If you have had recurrent bouts of urinary tract infection or UTI.
  • If your cervix has an unusual shape or you find it difficult to place the diaphragm.
  • If you have a vaginal infection
  • If you are allergic to silicon or spermicidal cream or gel
  • If you have had toxic shock syndrome
  • If you find it uncomfortable and tedious
  • If you have had an abortion (in the last 6 weeks)
  • If you or your partner has HIV or AIDS

A diaphragm is a barrier method of birth control. Though there are no major side effects associated with its usage, if left in the body for more than 24 hours, it may lead to toxic shock syndrome. If you register any pain, discomfort or bleeding after using a diaphragm, it is recommended to seek immediate medical help.

References/Resources:

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1. Contraceptive diaphragm or cap; NHS; https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/contraception/contraceptive-diaphragm-or-cap/

2. Diaphragm; Planned Parenthood; https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/diaphragm

3. Contraceptive Diaphragm; Family Planning Australia; https://www.fpnsw.org.au/factsheets/individuals/contraception/contraceptive-diaphragm

4. Vaginal Diaphragm; Cleveland Clinic; https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/23427-vaginal-diaphragm

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5. Diaphragm (contraceptive device); Health Direct; https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/diaphragm-contraceptive-device

6. Diaphragm; NHS Inform; https://www.nhsinform.scot/healthy-living/contraception/diaphragm

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7. Birth Control: How to Use Your Diaphragm; American Academy of Family Physicians; https://familydoctor.org/birth-control-how-to-use-your-diaphragm/

8. Contraception – diaphragms; Better Health; https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/contraception-diaphragms

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9. Barrier Methods of Birth Control: Spermicide, Condom, Sponge, Diaphragm, and Cervical Cap; ACOG; https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/barrier-methods-of-birth-control-spermicide-condom-sponge-diaphragm-and-cervical-cap

10. Allen. R. E; Diaphragm Fitting; American Family Physician.; https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/2004/0101/p97.html; January 2004

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11. Diaphragm; Contraception Choices; https://www.contraceptionchoices.org/contraceptive-method/diaphragm

Also Read:

Contraceptive Implant
Oral Contraceptive Pills
Combined Oral Contraceptive Pill (COCP)

This post was last modified on November 29, 2023 10:06 pm

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