Please note that the diaphragm is currently difficult to access in many places, including Ottawa. A new one-size fits all (i.e., no fitting required) diaphragm is expected to be available in Canada sometime in 2011.

What is a diaphragm?

A diaphragm is a small disk made of thin latex, which is attached to a circular rim. The diaphragm looks like a small rubber bowl. It is inserted into the vagina and over the cervix before vaginal sex to prevent pregnancy. The diaphragm requires a doctor’s prescription and must be fitted in order to ensure it fits properly over the cervix.

How does the diaphragm work?

The diaphragm works in 2 ways:
• The diaphragm covers the cervix and blocks the sperm from entering the uterus.
• The spermicide, which is used in tandem with the diaphragm, kills the sperm

How effective is the diaphragm?

Perfect Use: 92- 96%
Typical Use: 82%
* The diaphragm does not protect against sexually transmitted infections *

How do I use a diaphragm?

Before use:
• Read the instructions that come with the diaphragm
• Check the diaphragm for small holes, cracks or tears by holding it up to a light
• Check expiry dates of diaphragm and spermicidal gel
• Apply spermicidal cream/jelly around the rim and in the centre of the dome

• To maximize effectiveness, the diaphragm should be inserted less than 2 hours before vaginal sex and left in place for 6 to 8 hours afterward
• Find a comfortable position, Stand with one foot up on a chair or sit with knees apart, or lie down
• Hold the diaphragm with the dome facing down
• Insert the diaphragm into the vagina so that it covers the cervix; compress the sides of the diaphragm together with the fingers of one hand, and using the index finger as a guide, gently insert the diaphragm as far back in the vagina as it will go.
• To remove the diaphragm, hook a finger over or under the rim; pull down and out.
• If you have vaginal sex again within 6 hours, add another dose of vaginal spermicide cream/jelly. DO NOT remove the diaphragm; use an applicator to insert the spermicide.
• You can use a water or silicone based lubricant but avoid oil based lubricants because they will cause the latex to deteriorate.

Once you have removed the diaphragm:

• Wash the device with warm water and a mild soap; the diaphragm should be patted dry and dusted with baby powder to remove any moisture and placed in its carrying case.
• Avoid bathing, swimming or douching for 6 hours afterwards (showers are ok)

*Most women require a new diaphragm every two years. You may also need a different size after the birth of a baby, after a miscarriage/abortion, pelvic surgery or after a 10 pound weight gain or loss*

What can be the advantages of using the diaphragm?

• Can be inserted before sex play begins
• Women have control over contraception
• Effective immediately after insertion
• It’s very discrete and can fit easily into a purse
• It typically only needs replacing every 2 years
• You and your partner can’t feel it during sex

What can be the disadvantages of using the diaphragm?

• Sometimes difficult to insert or use.
• Not good for people who are allergic to spermicidal cream/jelly or latex
• Spermicidal cream/jelly can be messy
• Needs to be fitted by a doctor
• Must be comfortable with your body
• Does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

How can I get a diaphragm?

You require a fitting by a doctor and a prescription for a diaphragm. Diaphragms are available from pharmacies with a prescription.

How much does a diaphragm cost?

Approximately $65-$75 at local pharmacies.

Sexual Health News

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Insight Theatre, a Planned Parenthood Ottawa program, is a unique non-profit, public education theatre program created by, for and about youth.