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Diaphragm for Birth Control - Topic Overview

Effectiveness in preventing sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Diaphragms do not fully protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Also, 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 the diaphragm

  • 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.
  • It can be used by women who have health problems that would make estrogen use dangerous, and by women who smoke.

Disadvantages of the diaphragm

Failure rates for barrier methods are higher than for most other methods of birth control.

  • The diaphragm should not be used by women who have ever had toxic shock syndrome.
  • Women who use diaphragms may get more bladder infections (urinary tract infections, or UTIs). This is probably because the rim of the diaphragm presses on the urethra and may irritate it. A woman who gets frequent UTIs may need a smaller diaphragm or may prefer not to use the diaphragm.
  • Some people are embarrassed to use this method or feel the method interrupts foreplay or intercourse.
  • A couple must be comfortable with using the diaphragm and be prepared to use it every time they have sex.
  • A diaphragm can't be used if either person is allergic to latex.

It is important to check your diaphragm for any cracks, holes, or other damage that would reduce its effectiveness. Do not use any petroleum-based vaginal creams, oils, or ointments, which can damage the rubber. But water-based personal lubricants, such as Astroglide and K-Y Jelly, are safe to use.

This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 03, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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