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Diaphragm is bought at the pharmacy. However, first you must be measured for the diaphragm. This can take place at a general practitioner or at a birth control clinic. After a gynaecological examination the doctor tries which diaphragm fits best. Hereafter, the woman must learn to insert the diaphragm, control that it is correctly in place and remove it. After a couple of times, most women find it easy to put up a diaphragm correctly. If the diaphragm is correctly in place the woman cannot feel it walking around.

How does it work?

A diaphragm is a rubber bowl with a spring embedded in the edge. When the spring is pressed together, the diaphragm becomes elongated as a stick and can easily be inserted into the vagina. When the diaphragm is in the vagina, the diaphragm unfolds and covers the entrance to the uterus. Thereby the sperm cannot reach the egg. The spermicide – that is rubbed on the diaphragm – destroys the sperm and stops them from moving. The diaphragm should at the earliest be put up 6 hours before and should not be removed until at least 6 hour and 24 hours at the most after intercourse.

A diaphragm should be renewed after 2-3 years.


There is no general agreement on how safe the method is. Most studies show that using the diaphragm and spermicide correctly there is a 85-95% chance of the woman not becoming pregnant over the course of 12 months – that is the same as when using a condom. Diaphragm should always be used together with spermicide. The diaphragm is lubricated with spermicide on both side of the diaphragm.

If it takes more than two hours from the diaphragm has been placed until intercourse a new portion of spermicide should be applied. It is not necessary to take out the diaphragm since the spermicide can be inserted directly into the vagina as a suppository or with a syringe. The diaphragm should regularly be checked for holes.


Reasonably safe but not as safe as other methods.

In rare cases itching and smarting may arise in the vagina

The woman’s risk of having cystitis is increased.

At several intercourses following each other a new portion of spermicide should be applied each time.


When the diaphragm is correctly in place, neither the woman or the man can feel it.

It can be inserted some time before intercourse.

Protects to some degree against sexually transmitted diseases.

Only a few and light side effects.

Further reading on Spermicides