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The diaphragm is a barrier method of contraception used to prevent pregnancy.
It is a ‘one size fits most’ product, made from soft silicone with a flexible rim.
The diaphragm covers the cervix to prevent sperm from getting into the uterus. It is inserted into the vagina before sex and must be left in place for at least six hours after sex to allow any sperm in the vagina to become inactive.
The diaphragm is about 82% effective (typical use). Effectiveness can increase to about 86% (perfect use) with experience and correct and consistent use of the diaphragm.
The diaphragm may be suitable for people who:
- prefer an alternative to hormonal contraception.
- are allergic or sensitive to latex.
- want to use contraception only when required.
- are breastfeeding.
The diaphragm is not suitable for people who:
- want highly effective protection against pregnancy.
- have previously been fitted with a diaphragm which was size 60mm or smaller, or 85mm or larger.
- have given birth less than six weeks ago.
- have certain types of vaginal prolapse or another anatomical reason that would make the diaphragm unsuitable.
Caya® is the only brand available in Australia. It can be purchased from SHQ, most pharmacies and online.
You can book an appointment to discuss whether the diaphragm is a suitable method for you. Once you have your diaphragm, a health professional can check that it fits and is inserted correctly.
- Does not interfere with hormones or the menstrual cycle.
- Can be inserted at any convenient time prior to sex (no more than 24 hours).
- Can be purchased without visiting a health professional.
- Can be used for up to two years, if taken care of properly.
- Cost effective.
- Less effective than most other methods.
- Does not protect against sexually transmissible infections (STIs).
- May be unsuitable for those who don’t feel comfortable with insertion and removal.
- Needs to be carried with you and inserted at any time you may have sex.
- Some people may experience urinary infections. If this occurs, alternative contraception should be considered.
Practise inserting and removing the diaphragm before using it to prevent pregnancy. Detailed instructions are provided with the purchase of the diaphragm, so read these carefully before use.
Quick guide for using the diaphragm
- Apply Caya gel® to the diaphragm (this maintains the acid levels in the vagina, it is not a spermicide).
- Insert the diaphragm into the vagina by guiding it backwards and upwards.
- Check the cervix is covered by the diaphragm. If it’s not in the correct position, remove it and try again.
- After sex, leave the diaphragm in place for at least six hours, but no longer than 24 hours before removing it. If you have sex again within the six hours, leave the diaphragm in place, and apply more Caya® gel using the supplied applicator.
- Remove the diaphragm by hooking your finger into the removal dome and pulling it out.
After each use, clean the diaphragm with warm water and soap. Rinse it and leave it to air dry before storing it away in a cool, dry place. Avoid contact with disinfectants, detergents and perfumed soaps.
Check the diaphragm for tears before each use. If it feels ‘tacky’ this may mean the silicone is wearing out. It should last for up to two years depending on how often you use it and how you care for it.
Visit a pharmacy or doctor to discuss emergency contraception, such as emergency contraceptive pills and the copper IUD. It is most effective when used as soon as possible after unprotected sex.
FSRH Clinical Guidance: Barrier Methods for Contraception and STI Prevention. London: The Faculty of Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare; 2015. Available from: fsrh.org/standards-and-guidance/documents/ceuguidancebarriermethodscontraceptionsdi/
Schwartz JL, Weiner DH, Lai JJ, Frezieres RG, Creinin MD, Archer DF, et al. Contraceptive efficacy, safety, fit, and acceptability of a single-size diaphragm developed with end-user input. Obstet Gynecol. 2015;125(4):895-903.
Information last updated June 2020
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