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Updated June 06, 2014



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Increasing Diaphragm Success:

Protection may be increased by using the diaphragm correctly during each act of intercourse. This includes using spermicide and inserting the diaphragm before sex (can be inserted no more than 6 hours ahead of time. Any longer may weaken the spermicide) and making sure that it is covering your cervix.

If sex is delayed more than 6 hours since insertion, you do not need to remove the diaphragm, just make sure to insert additional spermicide just before having sex. Also, if you have sex again, without removing the diaphragm, apply more spermicide beforehand.

A diaphragm must be left in place for at least 6 hours after your last sexual act, but remember that a diaphragm should not be left in the vagina for longer than a total of 24 hours.

It is also a good idea to use a male latex condom in addition to using the diaphragm.

Women who find the process of using a diaphragm to be somewhat inconvenient tend to end up experiencing higher failure rates.

Things To Be Aware Of:

Understanding how diaphragms work is fairly easy but using them can be a bit more tricky. It is important that you practice inserting your diaphragm; the better a diaphragm fits, the better it will stay in place. Also, in order to protect against pregnancy, you must get the diaphragm into position by carefully inserting it into your vagina and resting it against your cervix. This will take training, so make sure that your doctor shows you how to insert and remove your diaphragm, and have him/her watch you insert and remove it (to make sure that you are doing it correctly).

If you find that you need additional lubrication, you may use any water-based or silicone-based personal lubricant. Do not use any oil-based products (such as Vaseline, baby oil, or vegetable oil) since these can break down the latex of the diaphragm and make it less effective.

Just a reminder: A diaphragm is intended for a woman’s individual use, so please do not share it with somebody else.

Care of Diaphragms:

With the exception of water and silicone-based lubricants, do not use any product that is not intended specifically for use with a diaphragm. Your doctor or pharmacist could answer any questions about a product that you may be unsure about.

Part of caring for your diaphragm is to check it carefully for tiny cracks, tears and holes each time before inserting it. This can be done by holding it up to a light and gently stretching the rubber apart with your fingers (make sure not to push a fingernail through the rubber). Fill the dome of the diaphragm with water and look for leaks. If you see any holes or cracks, use another over-the-counter birth control method until you can buy a new diaphragm.

A diaphragm can still be used if the rubber becomes discolored; however, if the rubber puckers (wrinkles or gathers), especially near the rim, the latex has become too thin, and the diaphragm should not be used.

With proper care, a diaphragm should last about two years.

Wash your diaphragm with mild soap and warm (not hot) water after each time you use it. Then, allow it to air dry and store it in its case.

STD Protection:

There is some evidence that diaphragm use may protect you against some sexually transmitted diseases. Research has shown that compared to women using no birth control method, those who use a diaphragm had at least a 65% lower rate of gonorrhea and trichomoniasis. The frequency of chlamydia was also reduced in diaphragm users. This may be due to the fact that the cervix is the site of infection for gonorrhea and chlamydia while the spermicide may destroy the trichomoniasis parasite.

There is mixed evidence as to whether or not diaphragm and spermicide use will reduce the risk of HIV; new research is pointing to the fact that consistent exposure to nonoxynol-9 (a type of spermicide) may put women at increased risk of HIV infection, as it may irritate tissue which increases the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.


(1992). Contraceptives and sexually transmitted diseases in women - Tips from other journals. American Family Physician, 46(4), p. 1269.

Johnsen. J. (2005). Diaphragms. Accessed from Planned Parenthood.

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