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The Cervical Cap: A Barrier Method Of Birth Control

By HERWriter
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Reproductive System related image Photo: Getty Images

The cervical cap is known as a barrier method of contraceptive. As with other barrier methods, the cervical cap is most effective when accompanied with spermicide.

In order to use a cervical cap, you'll need a pelvic exam, a Pap test and a prescription from a doctor.

The cervical cap is a latex cup shaped like a thimble which fits over the cervix. The cap is inserted before intercourse, and should remain in place for six to eight hours after sex.

The cervical cap can remain in place for as long as 48 hours which means it can be inserted well in advance of intercourse, giving a woman more freedom and flexibility with her love life.

As with all barrier methods, the cervical cap has no adverse effects on your future fertility. It's safe for breastfeeding mothers.

It won't hurt women with diabetes, high blood pressure or other health problems. The cap isn't usually related to urinary tract infections.

The cervical cap only needs to be thought of and dealt with when you're going to have sex. No pills to remember to take, no weeks to keep track of.

However, barrier methods are less effective than other contraceptives. They must be remembered and used every time you have sex.

For women who have not had a vaginal birth, the cap has about a 20 percent failure rate. Failure rate can be as high as 40 percent for women who have given birth vaginally.

The cervical cap can't be used during menstruation. It may be linked to a risk of abnormal cervical cell growth.

Women who are allergic to spermicides shouldn't use a cervical cap, since spermicides are an important part of the barrier equation.

Cervical caps only come in four sizes, and about 20 percent of women won't be able to use one. If you've had children, it's harder to get a proper fit which would make the cervical cap less effective.

If you've had an abnormal Pap test, inflammation of the cervix, or a sexually transmitted or reproductive tract infection the cervical cap is not for you.

The cap isn't safe for any woman with a history of toxic shock syndrome. Your risk is higher for toxic shock syndrome if the cervical cap is in place for over 24 hours.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.