Birth Control Overview (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
What is the effectiveness, and what are the side effects of other barrier methods of birth control?
Diaphragm: The diaphragm is a shallow latex cup with a spring mechanism in its rim to hold it in place in the vagina. Diaphragms are manufactured in various sizes. A pelvic examination with measurement of the vaginal length of your vaginal canal must be performed by your health-care professional so that the correct size of the diaphragm can be determined. Instructions as to how to prepare and insert the diaphragm will be provided by the physician.
The diaphragm prevents pregnancy by providing a barrier to the passage of semen into the cervix. Once in position, the diaphragm provides effective contraception for 6 hours. After that time, if the diaphragm has not been removed, fresh spermicide must be added with an applicator. The diaphragm must be left in place for at least 6 hours after sex but not more than 24 hours.
Cervical cap: The cervical cap is a soft cup-shaped latex device that fits over the base of a woman's cervix. It is smaller than a diaphragm and may be more difficult to insert. It too must be fitted by a trained provider, as it comes in different sizes. Spermicide is needed to fill the cap one third full prior to its insertion. It may be inserted as long as 8 hours before sexual activity, and it can be left in place for as long as 48 hours. The cervical cap acts as both a mechanical barrier to sperm migration into the cervical canal and as a chemical agent with the use of spermicide.
Sponge: The vaginal sponge, introduced in 1983, and taken off the market shortly thereafter, is enjoying a resurgence in its popularity. The sponge is a soft circular polyurethane device that contains a spermicide (nonoxynol-9). It is disposable, and should be discarded after use. It is OTC, and may be appealing to women who wish to avoid using hormonal contraception. It offers an immediate and continuous presence of spermicide throughout a 24-hour period.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/26/2016
Wayne Blocker, MD
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