The diaphragm is a barrier method of
birth control. It is a round, dome-shaped device made
of rubber that has a firm, flexible rim. It fits inside a woman's vagina and
cervix. It should always be used with a sperm-killing
cream or jelly (spermicide). There are different types of diaphragms:
The flat-spring and coil-spring types can be used
with an inserter.
The arcing-spring type is easy to insert with the
A woman inserts her diaphragm no sooner than 6 hours
before having sexual intercourse. To be effective, it must be used with a
spermicide. The diaphragm must be left in place for 6 hours after intercourse
and can be left in place up to 24 hours.
Did You Know?
Under the Affordable Care Act, many health insurance plans will provide free women’s preventive services, including mammograms, birth control and well-woman visits. Learn more.
The type of diaphragm that works
best for you will depend on your vaginal muscle tone and the shape of your
pelvis. Diaphragms come in different sizes, so you must visit a health
professional to be fitted and get a prescription for the right size and type of
diaphragm. At this visit, you will be taught
how to use and care for the diaphragm. A return visit with the diaphragm
already in place is usually needed to be certain that you are using it
You will need to be refitted for the right size of
A small weight gain or loss or a therapeutic abortion
usually does not require a new diaphragm size.
diaphragm every 1 to 2 years to avoid an unintended pregnancy. With time and
repeated use, small holes can form in the rubber. Rubber can also weaken over
time and tear more easily.
Effectiveness in preventing pregnancy
the diaphragm user failure rate is 16%. This means that 16 women in 100 become
pregnant in the first year of typical use. Not using the diaphragm with every
act of intercourse is the most common reason for failure. The "perfect use"
failure rate is 6%, with a pregnancy in 6 of every 100 women who carefully use
the diaphragm every time they have sex.1
Effectiveness in preventing sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)