A diaphragm is a dome made of soft silicone. You insert it into your vagina before sex to cover the cervix, so that sperm cannot get into the womb. You need to use spermicide with it, which kills the sperm. They are useful for people who do not want to use a hormonal or long lasting contraceptive.
The diaphragm can be purchased from pharmacies. It comes in one size only and therefore does not need to be fitted by a health professional. However, you may wish to visit your local sexual health clinic to discuss how you should fit it.
When used correctly they are between 92-96% effective at preventing pregnancy.
With clean hands, put a small amount of spermicide on each side of the diaphragm. Slide the diaphragm into your vagina, and push it far enough in that it covers your cervix.
You will need to leave the diaphragm in for at least 6 hours after sex.
The diaphragm will stop sperm from reaching an egg by covering your cervix, while the spermicide kills any sperm in the vagina.
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 buy diaphragms from pharmacies and some online stores.
The diaphragm may not be suitable if you:
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.