Skip navigation and jump to content
Welcome to Ireland's Youth Information Website
Follow us
Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Snapchat

Accessibility Options

High Contrast Text Size

How to use a diaphragm and cap

Find out more about the diaphragm and find out if this is the contraceptive method for you


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health


Share this article -

The diaphragm is a flexible rubber or silicone cap that fits inside the vagina and covers the opening to the womb (the cervix). A doctor or nurse fits a diaphragm for you to check the size and to teach you how to use it properly. It should be used with a spermicide that kills sperm. Spermicides can come in the form of creams, foams or jellies.

The diaphragm does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Only condoms protect against STIs. The diaphragm is 92-98% effective with very careful use, higher failure rate with less careful use.

Benefits of the diaphragm

  • The diaphragm doesn’t affect how regular your periods are
  • You only use it during sex and can put it in whenever you want before sex
  • There are no long term health risks associated with the diaphragm

Where to get a diaphragm

To get a diaphragm, you will need to speak to your GP.

  • A diaphragm needs to be fitted by a trained nurse or doctor
  • The nurse or doctor will select the right size diaphragm for you and show you how to put it in
  • When you first receive your diaphragm, you will be instructed to take it home and practice positioning it in your vagina - you are not protected during this practice period and should use an alternative contraception
  • You will then be asked to return to the clinic/doctor’s surgery after you have fitted it yourself, so that the doctor or nurse can check you know how to put it in properly
  • You must always use spermicide with a diaphragm

How to use a diaphragm

  • To use the diaphragm, you place it over your cervix and then run your finger around the rim to ensure that the cervix is fully covered. It may sound complicated at first, but you’ll soon get the hang of it
  • You have to keep the diaphragm in for six hours after sex and use more spermicide if you have sex again during that time
  • Do not have a bath within six hours after putting in the diaphragm, as the water could dislodge it or wash away the spermicide
  • The diaphragm fitting should be checked by a doctor or nurse every year

Things to keep in mind when using the diaphragm

  • The diaphragm does not protect against STIs, you will need to use a condom for full protection
  • A consultation with a doctor is needed to select the right size and type
  • Fittings should be checked every year
  • Additional spermicide is needed each time you have sex
  • Must stay in place for at least six hours after sex
  • Some people get cystitis (an inflammation of the bladder) after using the diaphragm
  • Some people find it difficult to fit in the vagina properly or feel uncomfortable touching their genital area
  • Spermicide can cause irritation or allergy for some people
  • Certain creams like those used to treat thrush can damage diaphragms

Remember that the age of sexual consent in the Republic of Ireland is 17 and the age of sexual consent in Northern Ireland is 16.

Share this article -

Published February 6th, 2013
Last updated June 28th, 2018
Tags contraception safer sex stis diaphragm
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

Need more information?

Request to speak with a youth worker in your area over the phone, by email or text. They may be able to assist you by providing further information specific to your needs.

Youth Work Ireland - Crosscare - YMCA

Contact via: Phone E-mail Text
By clicking submit you agree to our terms and conditions. ​Please note that this service is run by Youth Work Ireland and Crosscare​.​ E​nquiries are not handled by SpunOut.ie directly.
Jump to related articles
Was this article helpful?