If you’re new to using a diaphragm as your chosen method of contraception, you’re not alone. That’s why we’ve crafted this handy list of do’s and don'ts so that you can quickly learn how to handle your new device so that it works best for you. Let’s dive right in…
If you have health insurance, don’t forget to check with your provider about covering the cost of your diaphragm. From the initial appointment to the device itself and the spermicide that you’ll need on an ongoing basis, many insurance companies cover these costs in full.
Diaphragms are relatively inexpensive, costing around $100 for a device that is designed to last a couple of years. My Virtual Physician offers affordable appointments for just $49.99, where you can get your Caya prescription. If this is still unaffordable, talk with your doctor or your local health department; many have outreach programs that will help you attain affordable contraception.
Diaphragms are more effective when they are used together with spermicide. Spermicide comes in a tube and is a gel that you’ll apply to the rim of your diaphragm (or as instructed by the manufacturer). The diaphragm blocks most sperm from entering a woman’s reproductive system, but the spermicide finishes the job by killing the sperm, which could live for several days, increasing the chances of pregnancy, if it weren’t for the spermicide gel.
Much like when you used tampons for the first time, there’s a learning curve when it comes to inserting your diaphragm. The first few times, the insertion and removal process will likely be uncomfortable and awkward. But as you learn to finesse it just right, you’ll become a pro at putting it in and taking it out with ease. Give it a couple of weeks of practice before you give up on your diaphragm.
Spermicide gel is most effective within two hours of applying it. So, say you insert your diaphragm (with spermicide gel) at 4 pm and go to dinner but don’t get home until 7 pm, you’ll need to insert another applicator full of spermicide gel before sex for the best pregnancy protection. Don’t remove your diaphragm to do this; instead, simply use the applicator that came with the gel to add spermicide into the vagina.
Using a diaphragm takes a little bit of planning. Think ahead about what time you might have sex and plan accordingly. Make a mental note of the time of diaphragm insertion and after sex so that you can reapply spermicide and remove the device in proper timing.
After sex, your diaphragm needs to remain in place for six hours to give the spermicide time to disable any remaining sperm. Taking it out too soon puts you at a higher risk for pregnancy, essentially opening the doors to live sperm.
But you also don’t want to wear a diaphragm continuously for days on end. Most diaphragms recommend that they be removed at least every 24 hours. Leaving it in longer than a day can lead to vaginal infections such as bacterial vaginosis (BV).
It can be tempting to skip reading instruction manuals, patient care guides, and package inserts and jump right into using your new diaphragm. But when it comes to something as important as family planning, we encourage you to thoroughly review these documents before your first use. It’s also a good idea to keep them on hand in case you need to review them later down the road.
Taking care of your diaphragm isn’t difficult. Most come with a protective case to store your clean diaphragm in when not in use. After each use, rinse your diaphragm with mild soap and water, let dry, and put in the case. Never use any chemicals on your diaphragm and do not boil or steam it in an attempt to disinfect it. If you feel the diaphragm needs to be disinfected due to odor or staining, contact your doctor about getting a replacement.
Cleaning your diaphragm is a quick and simple process. Simply wash with mild soap and water and air dry or blot with a clean cloth. While you’re cleaning, you should periodically inspect your diaphragm for any signs of damage, including cracks, wrinkles, or weak spots. You can also fill it up with water and look for drips. Any signs of damage and you should use backup contraception and contact your doctor for a replacement.
Our last tip for proper use of a diaphragm for contraception is to always have clean hands when handling the diaphragm. Wash your hands both before and after you insert the diaphragm, as well as before and after removing it. Frequent handwashing will reduce your chances of unintentionally inviting unwanted bacteria to the region, which can lead to infections.
Using a diaphragm for birth control takes a little bit of extra preparation, but for some, it’s well worth the extra effort. If you’re interested in trying the fitting-free Caya Contoured Diaphragm, book an appointment to speak with our OBGYN team today!