The diaphragm is a method of contraception.
The diaphragm is a small silicone cap. It has a maximum width of 8.5 cm. The flexible rim of the diaphragm covers the entrance to the uterus (cervix) and prevents sperm cells from reaching the egg cell.
Some diaphragms come in various sizes. A doctor will determine the size you need. The diaphragm that is sold in Belgian pharmacies (Caya) only comes in 1 standard size.
How to use a diaphragm?
- Put a special gel (spermicide) on the inside of the diaphragm. The gel kills sperm cells or slows them. The gel enhances the protection.
- Fold the diaphragm in half and insert it a maximum of 2 hours before sexual intercourse.
- Insert the diaphragm deep into the vagina, over the entrance of the uterus. Hold the hollow side of the diaphragm towards the uterus. The cervix must be covered.
- Remove the diaphragm between 6 and 24 hours after ejaculation. Pull it down and out.
- Wash it in hot water and leave it to dry.
Less reliable when used incorrectly
When a diaphragm is used correctly, it is a very reliable method of contraception. However, the diaphragm is often not used in the way explained above. In this case, it is less reliable. Furthermore, the diaphragm only works if you use the right size. If you gain or lose more than 5 kilograms in weight, you should have a check-up to see whether you need a different-sized diaphragm. You will usually need a new size after delivery. Around 16 in 100 women become pregnant when they use the diaphragm for 1 year during sexual intercourse.
You should not use the diaphragm during the first 6 weeks after delivery. Ask a doctor for advice.
No protection against STIs and HIV
Buying the diaphragm
In Belgium, you can only buy the Caya at a pharmacy. Caya is a diaphragm in 1 standard size. It costs between € 30 and € 35. A tube of spermicide costs between € 8 and € 10. You do not need a prescription.
You can also buy diaphragms and spermicides on the internet.
Some health insurance funds repay part of the costs for contraception. Ask your health insurance fund about this.
You need to see the doctor for a diaphragm fitted to your size. In this case you also pay the personal contribution for the visit to the doctor. Some people have a right to increased reimbursement or urgent medical care.