Overview of Diaphragm

The diaphragm is a dome shaped latex or silicone cup that fits securely in the vagina and covers the cervix. It should always be used together with a spermicidal gel formulated for diaphragm use. A newly released diaphragm, called Caya, was recently approved by the FDA and should be available in the U.S. in the next year or so.

How It Works

Diaphragms block the opening to the uterus (the cervix) and hold spermicide that may destroy sperm cell membrane. The diaphragm can be inserted into the vagina at the time of intercourse or up to six hours before intercourse. After intercourse, the diaphragm is left in place for at least 6 hours. Using it longer than 24 hours is not recommended because of the very rare but possible risk of toxic shock syndrome.

The diaphragm is fitted by a healthcare provider. It comes in a variety of sizes from 2-4 inches in diameter. Instructions on insertion and removal techniques are reviewed at the visit. With proper care, diaphragms can last up to two years. They must be refit after giving birth vaginally. The newest diaphragm, Caya, is one size fits most, so talk with your provider about whether or not it might fit you.


Typical use: 84%

Perfect use: 94%


  • Contains no hormones
  • Immediately effective
  • Used only when needed


  • Spermicidal cream or jelly may cause irritation
  • Some individuals are allergic to latex or silicone
  • No protection from STIs
  • More bladder infections for some women
  • Less effective than other types of contraception


By prescription only, talk with your doctor about potentially ordering Caya for you when it comes out on the market.