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The Diaphragm

Available by prescription only and sized by a health professional to achieve a proper fit, the diaphragm is a dome-shaped rubber disk with a flexible rim that works in two ways to prevent pregnancy. It covers the cervix to block sperm entry, and the spermicide cream or jelly applied to the inside of the diaphragm before insertion or outside after insertion kills sperm. The diaphragm protects for six hours after it is inserted. For intercourse after the six-hour period, or for repeated intercourse within this period, fresh spermicide should be placed in the vagina with the diaphragm still in place. The diaphragm should be left in place for at least six hours after the last intercourse and women should not douche, rinse the vagina, or bathe during this time.† The diaphragm should not be left in for longer than a total of 24 hours because of the risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS), a rare but potentially fatal infection.

Diaphragms are designed to be used repeatedly and do not need to be replaced so long as a woman's size hasn't changed and the rubber is intact.† They have few side effects, are relatively comfortable, and more than 90% effective in preventing pregnancy when used properly.

Cervical caps and diaphragms are not recommended for use during your menstrual period because of an increased risk (albeit slight) of toxic shock syndrome (TSS). Doctors generally advise condoms and spermicide for contraception and STD protection during menstrual periods.

Click here for more information on birth control.

Created: 10/31/2001  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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