Diaphragm

A diaphragm is a thin flexible piece of plastic that is shaped like a dome that a person positions in their vagina.
Diaphragm
print this page
Street names Cervical cap, hat
Medical names Diaphragm, Caya® (brand)
Effectiveness 82% ?
It lasts 1 experience of sexual activity
Fertility No contraceptive effect when diaphragm is removed
Who can use it? People with a vagina and uterus of any age from menarche to menopause
Hormones Does not contain hormones
Visibility It needs to be cleaned and stored
STIs No protection ?
Side effects Increased urinary tract infections (UTIs)
Cost $100 and it can be reused for 1—2 years
Where to get it Visit a reproductive and sexual health clinic or your local doctor. You may need to visit a pharmacy to purchase the diaphragm

How does it work?

A diaphragm provides a physical barrier to block the sperm from entering the uterus. This prevents pregnancy.

You insert the diaphragm into your vagina so that it covers the cervix. It needs to stay in the vagina for at least 6 hours following sex. One diaphragm can be reused for up to 2 years.

You will still need to consider the risk of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) every time you have sex.

What’s it like to use?

A person who uses a diaphragm inserts it into their vagina. The process is a bit like using a tampon. It is flexible so you can bend it into a long thin shape and then slide it inside the vagina. If inserted correctly it will open and sit comfortably around the cervix and tucks in behind the pubic bone. Pelvic muscles will hold it in place.

Some people find it difficult to use a diaphragm. At first you can practise using a diaphragm alone to gain confidence and awareness of how it works. If your diaphragm feels uncomfortable it may not be inserted correctly. Learn more about your reproductive organs and sexual health and your cervix.

What if I forget about it?

Keep it close. Keep the diaphragm in an accessible place. Take it with you when you travel. If you forget to use it and have had unprotected penis in vagina (PIV) sex, you may need to consider emergency contraception.

If you forget to take the diaphragm out after 6 hours, remove it as soon as possible. If it has been left in more than 24 hours you may experience candida (thrush) or other infections. If you are feeling discomfort, seek advice from a medical professional.

Who can use it?

People with a vagina and uterus of any age, from menarche to menopause.

The diaphragm is a method that requires you and your sexual partner to pause to ensure it is fitted correctly. If pausing sex is undesirable, another contraceptive method may be more suitable.

If you experience polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), the Combined Hormonal Contraceptive Pill is generally considered to be the best contraceptive option. However, a diaphragm is also a suitable option for women with PCOS. It is best to discuss your exact situation with a doctor.

It is suitable for people who have never experienced pregnancy and for use as contraception after pregnancy. It is not suitable for people who have experienced Toxic Shock Syndrome.

Side effects

The use of a diaphragm can increase your risk of Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs). Ensure that the process of insertion and removal is hygienic, rinse the diaphragm thoroughly, and store it in a safe and clean space.

Since 2016 the only diaphragm available in Australia is the single-sized Caya®, this is made of silicone. Diaphragms purchased over the internet or that were purchased in Australia prior to 2016 were commonly made from latex. Some people have latex allergies, experienced as rashes, burning sensations, or swelling. Check on the packet that the diaphragm is made from plastics other than latex.

If at any point you feel that this contraceptive method is making you feel uncomfortable or unwell, get advice from a doctor or medical professional. If it is an emergency, call an ambulance on 000.

How and where to get it

Some reproductive and sexual health clinics can provide the diaphragm and fit it for you all on the same day. The clinician will show you how to insert a diaphragm and ensure that it fits comfortably.

If the reproductive and sexual health clinic does not have diaphragms in stock, you will need to purchase the diaphragm from a pharmacy. A diaphragm costs approximately $100 and is reusable for up to 2 years. There may also be consultation fees. You can ask for a quote when you book an appointment.

What if you change your mind

You can stop using the diaphragm whenever you like, just take it out. If you decide to stop using it within 6 hours after sexual intercourse you will need to consider using an emergency contraceptive. Visit a reproductive and sexual health clinic or your local doctor to discuss your contraceptive options.