Skip to content

    Birth Control Health Center

    Font Size

    What Is the Cervical Cap?

    The cervical cap (FemCap) is a soft, thimble-shaped cup made out of silicone or latex. It fits snugly over the cervix (where the uterus opens into the vagina).

    It’s designed to block sperm from reaching the woman’s egg. That’s why it’s called a “barrier” method of birth control. The diaphragm also uses the barrier method, but it’s easier to insert and remove.

    Recommended Related to Birth Control

    Permanent Birth Control: His and Her Options

    Three years after they got married, Alexandra Paul and her husband, Ian, wanted better birth control. Paul was fed up with side effects of the pill, so she switched to a diaphragm. But when contraceptive jelly gave her infections, she avoided using it. That put a crimp in their lovemaking. "Not having birth control in every night limited our spontaneity," she says. They knew they didn't want kids, so they decided to go for a permanent type of birth control -- sterilization. But for whom -- him or...

    Read the Permanent Birth Control: His and Her Options article > >

    How Do I Use It?

    The woman coats the inside of the cap with spermicide, and inserts it into her vagina and up to her cervix before sex. The cap blocks the cervix and the spermicide kills the sperm.

    You must keep the cap in place for at least 6 hours after sex. During that time, if you have sex again, you don’t need to reapply the spermicide. But you should check that the cap is still in place.

    The woman uses her fingers to take the cap out. It’s important to do that within 48 hours (2 days) after having sex. If you leave it in, there’s a chance you could get a staph infection that gets out of control and becomes toxic shock syndrome, which needs immediate medical care.

    Once the cap is out, rinse it with soap and water, and let it air dry. Keep it in its case. Don’t use it with any creams or lubricants.

    Where Do I Get One?

    You need to make an appointment with your doctor to get fitted. It’s important that the cap fit tightly.

    You should replace your cup every year.

    How Effective Is It?

    Estimates vary, but the CDC says that of 100 women who use the cap, about 12 will accidentally get pregnant in a typical year. It’s less effective if you’ve had a baby by vaginal birth. And you need to follow the instructions exactly for it to work right.

    Does the Cervical Cap Protect Against Sexually Transmitted Diseases?

    No. The male condom provides the best protection from most STDs.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD on August 25, 2015

    Today on WebMD

    Here's what to expect.
    man opening condom wrapper
    Do you know the right way to use them?
    birth control pills
    Here's what to do next.
    intimate couple in bed
    Take this quiz.
    Road sign reading change ahead
    teen couple holding hands
    pregnancy test and calendar
    Birth Control Pills Weight Gain
    contraceptive pills
    Young couple looking at each other, serious
    woman reading pregnancy test result