A diaphragm is a bowl-shaped rubber cup with a flexible rim. When put in place, it covers the cervix and is used to prevent pregnancy. The diaphragm is used with spermicidal cream or jelly.


  • 82% - 94% effective in preventing pregnancy
  • May provide some protection against sexually transmitted infections

How the Diaphragm is Used

Your health care provider will give you a physical exam and fitting to determine the correct size of diaphragm. The diaphragm is used with spermicidal cream or jelly and is inserted into the vagina up to six hours before intercourse and may be left in place for 24 hours. After intercourse, the diaphragm must be left in place for at least six hours. If sexual intercourse is repeated during these six hours, more jelly must be inserted into the vagina without removing the diaphragm.


You need to receive a complete gynecological exam every year. It is recommended that your diaphragm fitting is checked also, especially if you have had a change in weight or a recent pregnancy. If you have any of the following problems, contact your health care provider:
  • Any discomfort when diaphragm is in place
  • If diaphragm does not stay in place
  • Irritation or itching
  • Frequent bladder infections
  • Unusual vaginal discharge

Benefits of Using the Diaphragm

  • Diaphragm is an inexpensive, reusable method of birth control
  • Only need to use the diaphragm when sexually active
  • No change in menstruation (periods)
  • Almost no side effects
  • Provides some protection against abnormal changes in the cervix
  • Possible Problems
  • Must plan in advance every time to use
  • It may take some practice to learn insertion and removal
  • Must be comfortable with inserting a diaphragm into vagina
  • May have allergies to spermicidal cream or jelly or rubber products in diaphragm
  • May increase chance of urinary tract infection or toxic shock syndrome.