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Caps & Diaphragms

Caps and diaphragms are thin, soft domes made of latex or silicone that fit inside the vagina. They stop sperm from passing through the entrance of the womb. When used with a chemical that kills sperm, they are 92-96% effective at preventing pregnancy.

What is it?

Diaphragms and caps fit inside the vagina and prevent sperm passing through the cervix (the entrance of the womb). They are thin, soft domes made of latex or silicone and they come in various sizes and shapes.

To prevent pregnancy effectively, diaphragms and caps need to be used in combination with a chemical that kills sperm (spermicide). When used with spermicide, they are 92-96% effective at preventing pregnancy.

Who can use it?

Most people can use diaphragms and caps. However, they might not be suitable if you:

  • Cannot reach your cervix or have and unusually shaped or positioned cervix.
  • Are not comfortable touching your genital area.
  • Have weak vaginal muscles.
  • Have an allergy to latex or the chemicals in spermicide.
  • Have ever had toxic shock syndrome.
  • Have repeated urinary tract infections.
  • Currently have a vaginal infection.
  • Have high risk of contracting an STI.
What are the advantages?
  • You only need to use it when you want to have sex.
  • You can put it in at a convenient time before having sex.
  • There are no serious health risks or side effects.
What are the disadvantages?
  • It is not as effective as some other types of contraception.
  • It provides very little protection against STIs.
  • It can take time to learn how to use it.
  • Cystitis can be a problem for some people who use a diaphragm.
  • Latex and spermicide can cause irritation in some people.
Where can you get it?

You can get the cap or the diaphragm for free through the NHS from our clinics or most GP surgeries. You can also buy them at the pharmacist; however they must be fitted to the correct size by a trained doctor or nurse.

You can use the service finder to find a service near you.

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