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How can a diaphragm prevent pregnancy?

The diaphragm is a shallow, dome-shaped, soft rubber cup that fits securely in the vagina to cover the cervix. A spermicide is placed in the cup, facing the cervix, to kill or immobilize sperm and prevent them from entering the uterus and fertilizing an egg. Diaphragms, correctly fitted and worn, prevent pregnancy and protect against some STIs, including gonorrhea and chlamydia, as well as pelvic inflammatory disease and cervical dysplasia. Though they are safer than the Pill or the IUD, they are not as effective in preventing unintended pregnancy. For many women, the diaphragm is an excellent method of contraception because it is woman-controlled and has few side effects, but it requires consistent and correct use. Many women find the device inconvenient, since it must be inserted prior to intercourse, and messy, because it must be used with a spermicide gel or cream.

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Our Bodies, Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era

America's best-selling book on all aspects of women's health With more than four million copies sold, "Our Bodies, Ourselves" is "the" classic resource that women of all ages can turn to for...

Continue Learning about Diaphragms

Will I ever need to replace my diaphragm?
Stacy Wiegman, PharmDStacy Wiegman, PharmD
You should replace a diaphragm approximately every two years. Also, the American Congress of Obs...
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If I use the diaphragm without spermicide, will it work at all?
Boston Women's Health Book CollectiveBoston Women's Health Book Collective
Yes, but using a diaphragm without spermicide will reduce its effectiveness. Studies are now under w...
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Does using a diaphragm increase my risk of bladder infections?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
Any action or device that increases the possibility of bacteria entering the urethra increases your ...
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Do diaphragms prevent sexually transmitted diseases?
Bonnie Lynn Wright, PhDBonnie Lynn Wright, PhD
No.  Diaphragms only protect against pregnancy by covering the cervix.  The mucous membranes of the ...
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.