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The diaphragm is a barrier method of birth control for women. It's a soft, shallow rubber cup shaped like a dome, with a flexible rim. It serves as a barrier between sperm and the cervix.
Place the diaphragm high in the vagina, so that it covers the entrance to the cervix. This will prevent sperm from gaining entry to the uterus.
The spermicide goes into the dome so that if the fit of the diaphragm isn't tight enough to keep out all the sperm, the spermicide will take care of them.
Diaphragms come in many different sizes. You'll need to be fitted for one by a doctor or clinician.
A diaphragm can be left in place for up to 24 hours, and must be left in place for six hours after sex to be effective. While the diaphragm can stay in place for a day at a time, more spermicide must be used each time you have sex.
The diaphragm causes no hormonal changes like the Pill, and if you should decide you want to conceive, you'll have an immediate return of fertility. A diaphragm won't be felt by either partner and does not affect sensation for either partner.
However, a diaphragm is less effective for women who have sex frequently. It can cause pelvic pain for some women, and there may be increased risk of urinary tract infections.
Some women can experience irritation from spermicides, or mild allergic reactions to either the spermicide or the rubber of the diaphragm, or both. This can cause greater risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection.
The diaphragm must be cleaned after every use, and there is a risk of toxic shock syndrome when the diaphragm is left in place for too long at a time.
To clean your diaphragm, wash it with a mild soap. Rinse it and dry it, then put it into its compact. It should be kept away from heat and light to prevent the rubber from being weakened.
Keep powder like baby powder or body powder away from it as these can damage the rubber. It can be dusted with corn starch but it should be washed off after use. Oil-based hand cream, Vaseline and the like will damage the diaphragm.
Use a back-up method of birth control like condoms or contraceptive pills until your first return visit to the doctor.