What should I know about the diaphragm

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The diaphragm is a shallow cup made of soft rubber or thin silicone that a woman wears in her vagina during sex. The diaphragm covers the cervix so that the man’s sperm cannot get into her womb.

When a diaphragm is used correctly, it prevents pregnancy most of the time and may also give some protection against STIs. The diaphragm should be used with spermicide. If you do not have spermicide, you can still use the diaphragm, but it may not work as well to prevent pregnancy.

Diaphragms come in different sizes, and are available at some health posts and family planning clinics. A health worker who has been trained to do pelvic exams can examine you and find the right size diaphragm. A diaphragm is effective only when using the correct size.

Diaphragms can get holes, particularly after being used for more than a year. It is a good idea to check your diaphragm often. Replace it when the rubber gets dry or hard, or when there is a hole in it.

You can put the diaphragm in just before you have sex or up to 6 hours before. If you have sex more than one time after you put the diaphragm in, put more spermicide in your vagina each time before you have sex, without removing the diaphragm.

  • Burns, A. A., Niemann, S., Lovich, R., Maxwell, J., & Shapiro, K. (2014). Where women have no doctor: A health guide for women. Hesperian Foundation.
  • Audiopedia ID: en020414