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Birth Control Health Center

Birth Control and the Diaphragm

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What Is a Diaphragm?

A diaphragm is a round piece of flexible rubber with a rigid rim. Before intercourse, the diaphragm is placed in the vagina against the cervix. The diaphragm prevents semen from entering the uterus. Spermicide should always be used with a diaphragm for it to be most effective.

How Effective Is a Diaphragm?

With the use of a spermicide, the diaphragm is 82%-94% effective.

How Do I Use a Diaphragm?

Spermicide should be put in and around the rim of the diaphragm no more than two hours before intercourse. The diaphragm is then inserted into the vagina. More spermicide should be inserted into the vagina each time you have sex. Do not remove the diaphragm for at least six hours after intercourse, but remove it within 24 hours.

Where Do I Get a Diaphragm?

You can get a diaphragm from your doctor. Your doctor will give you a pelvic exam first so that you receive a proper fitting diaphragm. This fit should be checked by your doctor every year and the diaphragm should be replaced every two years. Also, diaphragms should be refitted after a weight change of 10 pounds or more.

Does a Diaphragm Protect Against Sexually Transmitted Diseases?

No. Using a diaphragm and spermicide may not protect against some sexually transmitted diseases, or 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 September 22, 2014

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