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Diaphragms

Diaphragms:
A Barrier Against Pregnancy



What is a diaphragm?
How does a diaphragm work?
Where can I get a diaphragm?
What does a diaphragm feel like?
How reliable is a diaphragm?
How do you put in a diaphragm?
How do I know if the diaphragm is in the right way?
How do I take a diaphragm out?
What do I do with the diaphragm after I take it out?
Can a diaphragm cause problems?
Can a diaphragm protect me against sexually transmitted diseases?
How do I know if a diaphragm is the right kind of birth control for me?


What is a diaphragm?
A diaphragm is a rubber disk that you put into your vagina to cover your cervix. A diaphragm works by blocking the sperm from swimming up your vagina. When the diaphragm is in place, the sperm stay put. They can't enter your cervix or reach the egg to fertilize it and get you pregnant. back to top

How does a diaphragm work?
A diaphragm is shaped like a dome. It's made from thin rubber that's attached to a metal ring. The diaphragm's ring is really bendable and the rubber is soft, so you can fold the whole thing in half to get it inside your vagina. The ring is important because it holds the diaphragm in place in your vagina and blocks the entrance to your cervix. back to top

Where can I get a diaphragm?
There are different types of diaphragms, and they come in different sizes. Your health professional will measure you for a diaphragm that's the right size for your body. Then you'll get a prescription that you can get filled at the drugstore.

The type and size of diaphragm that's right for you can change if you have a baby or if you gain or lose a lot of weight. If you're using a diaphragm and either of these things happens to you, ask your health professional to measure you for a new diaphragm. back to top

What does a diaphragm feel like?
Your diaphragm should fit snugly around your cervix and shouldn't bother you. Usually, once it's in, you can't feel it at all. back to top

How reliable is a diaphragm?
The diaphragm is supposed to be 94% effective in keeping you from getting pregnant when it's used the right way. This makes it more effective than condoms and spermicide, but less effective than birth control pills and Depo-Provera. In real life, the diaphragm is only 82% effective. That's because many girls don't put their diaphragms in every time they have sex. And sometimes girls put the diaphragm in the wrong way. If it doesn't cover your cervix completely, it won't work, because the sperm won't be blocked completely. back to top

How do you put in a diaphragm?
Don't be worried when you first see the diaphragm at your health professional's office. It may look really big to you and you may think, "How is that thing actually going to get inside?" Here's what you do:
  • Cover each side of the diaphragm with spermicidal jelly. This is a clear gel that kills sperm on contact. You can buy it at the drugstore in the same area where the condoms are sold.
  • Press the sides of the metal ring together to fold it, so that you can fit it into your vagina. It may be slippery from the spermicide, so get a good grip.
  • Squat down or place one foot on the toilet or the bathtub. Push the diaphragm into your vagina. Once it's in the right place, it pops back to its regular size to cover your cervix.
  • Make sure that the diaphragm is in the right position by putting your finger into your vagina. When you feel around, make sure the diaphragm has completely unfolded. It should cover your cervix and fit snugly in your vagina.
Don't forget: Put the diaphragm in before intercourse and leave it there for at least 6 hours afterward. back to top

How do I know if the diaphragm is in the right way?
If you decide a diaphragm is the right kind of birth control for you, practice putting it in until you're sure you can put it in correctly. At your appointment, have your health professional check to make sure you put it in right and can take it out without any problem.

You have to put your diaphragm in the right way so it can do its job of blocking off your cervix and blocking the sperm. You can only tell that it's covering your cervix if you know where your cervix is. Before you put your diaphragm in, put your index and middle finger up your vagina to feel where your cervix is. It will feel like the tip of your nose sticking out into your vagina and is about the size of a quarter.

When you put your diaphragm in, put your fingers into your vagina again to be sure that it's in there correctly. If the diaphragm is covering your cervix, you've done it right. back to top

How do I take a diaphragm out?
First, make sure you've had the diaphragm in your vagina for at least 6 hours. Don't take it out early! If you do, the sperm could still be alive and you could get pregnant!

If you're ready to take out your diaphragm, here's what to do:
  • Put your index and middle fingers into your vagina and grab hold of the ring of the diaphragm.
  • Pull out the diaphragm. It will fold in half as you pull. back to top
What do I do with the diaphragm after I take it out?
After you remove your diaphragm, clean it and put it away until you need it again. Every now and then you should check your diaphragm for any damage. Look at it closely to be sure it doesn't have any holes or tears. Also fill it with water. If it leaks, it probably has a hole. If you find a hole or tear, you should throw the diaphragm away and get a prescription from your health professional for a new one. back to top

Can a diaphragm cause problems?
Some girls can get a skin irritation from the spermicidal jelly. Some girls also get more urinary tract infections when using a diaphragm for birth control. That's because the diaphragm can press on the urethra, the tube that leads from the bladder to the outside of the body. back to top

Can a diaphragm protect me against sexually transmitted diseases?
No. You must use a condom to help prevent catching sexually transmitted diseases. back to top

How do I know if a diaphragm is the right kind of birth control for me?
The diaphragm is usually not the best method of birth control for teenage girls. Many girls find the diaphragm messy and hard to use. They end up not using it every time they have sex. Talk to your health professional about the kind of birth control that's right for you. back to top

 
 
 
Last Modified Date: 4/4/2001
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