If you are under 18, please make sure you have your parents’ permission before providing us with any personal details.
Diaphragms are dome-shaped devices (of either latex or silicone) that fit into the vagina and over the cervix. Cervical caps are smaller and need to be put directly onto the cervix (made of silicone).
Both the diaphragm and the cap (with spermicide) work by stopping sperm from entering the womb by covering the cervix. Read more
They can be put in before sex
They are not affected by any medicines that you take in tablet/oral form
They don’t protect you against STIs
They aren’t as effective as other methods of contraception
Diaphragms and caps must be fitted by a trained doctor or nurse on the first occasion. You can get diaphragms and caps from Brook services, contraception clinics, GUM clinics and some GP surgeries. Use our find a service tool to find places near you. Read more
Both the diaphragm and the cap work by stopping sperm from entering the womb by covering the cervix. You also need to use a spermicide with the diaphragm/cap. Spermicide gel contains chemicals that kill sperm.
You only need to use diaphragms and caps when you have sex, and you must leave then in for at least six hours afterwards.
Diaphragms and caps must be fitted by a trained doctor or nurse on the first occasion. They may not be available at your local clinic, so it is best to contact the clinic to check first.
You can get diaphragms and caps from Brook services, contraception clinics, GUM clinics and some GP surgeries. Use our find a service tool to find places near you.
Contraception and sexual health services such as Brook are free and confidential, including for people under the age of 16. Health professionals work to strict guidelines and won’t tell anyone else about your visit unless they believe you’re at serious risk of immediate harm. Find out more about Brook’s confidentiality policy.
When you go to get the diaphragm or cap, an appointment will typically include:
Initially you may be fitted with a temporary ‘practice’ diaphragm or cap so that you can learn how to use it and see how it feels. During this time you will not be protected from pregnancy so will need to use additional contraception such as condoms. When you go back you should wear the diaphragm or cap so that the doctor or nurse can check it is the right size.
Once you have had the diaphragm or cap fitted, you will only need to go back to the doctor or nurse to replace it (most people can use the same one for a year).
You may also need to get a different size diaphragm or cap fitted if you gain or lose more than 3kg (7lb) in weight, or if you have a baby, miscarriage or abortion.
You can put the diaphragm in before you have sex but if you put it in more than three hours before you will need to use extra spermicide. You should avoid using diaphragms or caps during your period because of the possible risk of toxic shock syndrome.
Putting diaphragms in:
Putting caps in:
How to take out diaphragms or caps:
You can leave it for longer, but not for more than the recommended maximum time (including the minimum six hours):
You must leave all types of diaphragm or cap in place for at least six hours after the last time you had sex.
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