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The Diaphragm is a shallow, dome shaped rubber disk with flexible edges. The Diaphragm is inserted into the vagina and covers the cervix to prevent sperm from entering the uterus. The Diaphragm creates a barrier between the sperm and the uterus, so diaphragms are considered a “Barrier Method” of birth control. Diaphragms are combined with spermicides to prevent pregnancy but offer no protection against STDs.

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How Does A Diaphragm Work?

A Diaphragm works by creating a barrier over the cervix which blocks sperm from entering the uterus. Diaphragms are combined with spermicides which kill sperm and keep them from fertilizing an egg. Diaphragms don’t contain any hormones.

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How Effective Is The Diaphragm For Pregnancy Prevention?

With absolute perfect use the Diaphragm is about 91% effective, meaning that about 9 out of 100 women using the Diaphragm may become pregnant. But many women do not use the device 100% correctly, 100% of the time. So with "typical" use of the Diaphragm, it is about 80% effective, meaning that 20 out of 100 women using the Diaphragm will become pregnant. It is important that the Diaphragm fits right and is used correctly or it decreases in effectiveness.

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How Do I Use The Diaphragm?

First you must coat the Diaphragm in spermicide, then you insert the Diaphragm into the vagina so that is covers the cervix. The Diaphragm prevents sperm from getting into the uterus and the spermicides immobilize and kill sperm for extra protection. The Diaphragm can be inserted up to 2 hours before intercourse and must be left in place for at least 6 hours after intercourse. Do not leave the Diaphragm in for longer than 24 hours; leaving it in longer may cause Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS).

After removing the Diaphragm, gently wash it with warm water and hand soap. Let the device dry completely and place it in its storage case. Periodically check the diaphragm for holes to make sure it is providing adequate protection. If well taken care of a diaphragm may last up to 2 years before needing to be replaced.

For the Diaphragm to work right it must be the proper size. A clinician will make sure you have a prescription for the proper size to insure proper use.

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How Do I Get A Diaphragm?

To get a Diaphragm you must go to a clinic and get measured so that you get a diaphragm that fits right and works best. Contact your health care provider or local reproductive health clinic to see if they can fit you with a diaphragm.

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Is This The Right Method For Me?

The Diaphragm is a reasonably effective barrier method of birth control that can prevent unintended pregnancies without the use of hormones. The use of Diaphragms also involves some planning and preparation, so make sure you are familiar with the proper way to use a diaphragm before you use it…If you think it may be hard for you to use the Diaphragm 100% correctly, 100% of the time, you may want to consider a different method. Some women may have an allergic reaction to the material of the Diaphragm or to certain types of spermicide. If you have these allergies you may want to choose a different method.

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Does the Diaphragm Prevent STDs Too?

The Diaphragm is a good method for preventing unintended pregnancies but it offers NO PROTECTION against sexually transmitted diseases! If you are at risk for contracting STDs, you will need to take the necessary precautions to avoid them as well as pregnancy. To learn more about STDs and how to prevent them click HERE

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Are There Any Side Effects Associated with the Diaphragm?

The Diaphragm contains no hormones and so side effects are not necessarily caused directly by the method itself but are secondary to its use.

If a diaphragm is left inside the body for long periods of time especially while a woman is menstruating, there is risk of developing Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS).

Diaphragms have also been known to increase risk of developing a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) as the device may interfere with proper bladder expression.

Diaphragms are often made of Latex and are used in combination with a spermicidal jelly or cream. Some people may be allergic to Latex or have a reaction to the spermicide. If you or your partner is sensitive to these materials you may want to explore an alternative method.

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Toxic Shock Syndrome: a severe condition caused by Toxins generated by a buildup of certain types of bacteria. Symptoms may include flu-like symptoms, muscle aches, low blood pressure and organ failure.
Spermicidal Jelly or cream: the jelly or cream that contains a detergent-like chemical that immobilizes sperm cells effectively preventing them from fertilizing an egg and causing a pregnancy.
Immobilize: a substance or device that can stop movement
Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS): a rare disease caused by bacteria that can be fatal if left untreated. Symptoms can include fever greater than 102 degrees, red flat rash followed by peeling skin, low blood pressure or fainting, nausea/vomiting, severe muscle pain, and low platelets.
Spermicide: a foam or gel that can kill sperm to prevent pregnancy