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Birth Control and the Cervical Cap

What Is the Cervical Cap?

The cervical cap (FemCap) is a thimble-shaped cup made out of durable silicone material that fits snugly over the cervix and is used for birth control.

How Is the Cervical Cap Used?

The cervical cap is used the same way as a diaphragm. The woman coats the cap with spermicide and inserts the cap into her vagina and up to her cervix before sex. Unlike the diaphragm and older versions of the cervical cap, the spermicide is put on the side of the cap facing away from the cervix. This lessens the potential irritation to the cervix. The cap blocks the cervix and the spermicide paralyzes the sperm. If sex is repeated it is not necessary to reapply the spermicide, but you should check the placement of the cap. Do not remove the cap each time you have sex.

Do not remove the cervical cap for at least six hours after intercourse. The cap can be kept in place for up to 48 hours.

Where Do I Get a Cervical Cap?

The cervical cap comes in three sizes and the fit must be determined by your doctor.

How Effective Is the Cervical Cap for Birth Control?

The initial cervical cap was about 86% effective. The cap currently available is thought to be more effective in preventing pregnancy. Effectiveness of the cervical cap is lower for women who have already had a child.

Does the Cervical Cap Protect Against Sexually Transmitted Diseases?

No. Using a cervical cap and spermicide may not protect against some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV (the virus that causes AIDS). The male condom provides the best protection from most STDs.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD, FACOG on January 14, 2015

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