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Cervical Cap for Birth Control - Topic Overview

The cervical cap is a barrier method of birth control. A cervical cap, which is made of rubber, fits tightly over the opening to the uterus (the cervix). It is used with a spermicide. You can insert the cap ahead of time or just before sex. To work best, the cap should be left in place for 6 hours after sex. Do not leave it in for more than 48 hours total. If you have sex more than one time while the cap is in place, you'll need to add more spermicide and check the position of the cap. To do this, put a small amount of spermicide on your finger, then insert your finger into your vagina to reach the cap. Make sure the cap is still in place. Don't remove the cap.

Prescription method

The cap requires a prescription from a doctor. Getting a cervical cap may require two visits to a doctor: one visit to fit the device, and a return visit with the cap already in place to be certain the woman is using it correctly.

Effectiveness in preventing pregnancy

The cervical cap is less effective for women who have had a vaginal birth. It is a better choice for women who have not had a vaginal delivery.

The difference in cervical cap failure rates for women who have borne children vaginally and those who have not may be due to changes in the cervix after vaginal delivery.

Effectiveness in preventing sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

The cervical cap does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including infection with HIV. The use of spermicides with nonoxynol-9 may increase your risk of getting HIV/AIDS. So be sure to use a condom for STI protection unless you know that you and your partner are infection-free.

Advantages of cervical cap

  • It does not affect future fertility for either the woman or the man.
  • It is used only at the time of sexual intercourse.
  • It is safe to use while breast-feeding.
  • It is less expensive than hormonal methods of birth control.
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