A diaphragm is a soft, latex, dome-shaped barrier that is placed in the vagina with spermicidal jelly before sexual intercourse. It covers the cervix, kills sperm, and blocks the passage of sperm into the cervix. This method does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

A diaphragm must be fitted by a caregiver during a pelvic exam. A caregiver will measure your vagina prior to prescribing a diaphragm. You will also learn about use, care, and problems of a diaphragm during the exam. If you have significant weight changes or become pregnant, it is important to have the diaphragm rechecked and possibly refitted. The diaphragm should be replaced every 2 years, or sooner if damaged.


  • You can use it while breastfeeding.

  • It is not felt by your sex partner.

  • It does not interfere with your female hormones.

  • It works immediately and is not permanent.


  • It is sometimes difficult to insert.

  • It may shift out of place during sexual intercourse.

  • You must have it fitted and refitted by your caregiver.


  1. Check the diaphragm for holes by holding it up to the light, stretching the latex, or by filling it with water.

  2. Place the spermicide cream or jelly inside the dome and around the rim of the diaphragm.

  3. Squeeze the rim of the diaphragm and insert the diaphragm into the vagina.

  4. The opening of the dome should face the cervix while inserting the diaphragm.

  5. The front part (or top) of the rim should be behind the pubic bone and pushed over the top of the cervix.

  6. Be sure the cervix is completely covered by reaching into your vagina and feeling the cervix behind the latex dome of the diaphragm. If you are uncomfortable, it is not inserted properly. Try inserting it again.

  7. Leave the diaphragm in for 6 to 8 hours after intercourse. If intercourse occurs again within these 6 hours, another application of spermicide is needed.

  8. The diaphragm should not be left in place for longer than 24 hours.


  • Wash the diaphragm with mild soap and warm water. Rinse thoroughly and dry completely after every use.

  • Only use water-based lubricants with the diaphragm. Oil-based lubricants can damage the diaphragm.

  • Do not use talc on the diaphragm.

  • Do not use the diaphragm if:

  • You had a baby in the last 2 months.

  • You have a vaginal infection.

  • You are having a menstrual period.

  • You had recent surgery on your cervix or vagina.

  • You have vaginal bleeding of unknown cause.

  • Your sex partner is allergic to latex or spermicides.


  • You have pain during sexual intercourse when using the diaphragm.

  • The diaphragm slips out of place during sexual intercourse.

  • You have a fever.

  • You have blood in your urine.

  • You have burning or pain when you urinate.

  • You find a hole in the diaphragm.

  • You develop abnormal vaginal discharge.

  • You have vaginal itching or irritation.

  • You cannot remove the diaphragm.

  • You think you may be pregnant.

  • You need to be refitted for a diaphragm.