Contraception and Safer Sex

Birth Control Pills
Depo Provera
Emergency Contraception Pill
Female Condom (Reality Condom)
Fertility Awareness Methods
Hormonal Contraceptive Patch (Evra Patch)
Hormonal Contraceptive Ring (Nuva Ring)
Intrauterine Device (IUD)
Intrauterine System (IUS)
Male Condom
Tubal Ligation


***Please note that the diaphragm is currently difficult to access in many places, including Ottawa. A new one-size fits all (i.e., no fitting required) diaphragm is expected to be available in Canada sometime in 2011.

What is a diaphragm?

A diaphragm is a small disk made of thin latex, which is attached to a circular rim. The diaphragm looks like a small rubber bowl. It is inserted into the vagina and over the cervix before vaginal sex to prevent pregnancy. The diaphragm requires a doctor’s prescription and must be fitted in order to ensure it fits properly over the cervix.

How does the diaphragm work?

The diaphragm works in 2 ways:
• The diaphragm covers the cervix and blocks the sperm from entering the uterus.
• The spermicide, which is used in tandem with the diaphragm, kills the sperm

How effective is the diaphragm?

Perfect Use: 92- 96%
Typical Use: 82%
* The diaphragm does not protect against sexually transmitted infections *

How do I use a diaphragm?

Before use:
• Read the instructions that come with the diaphragm
• Check the diaphragm for small holes, cracks or tears by holding it up to a light
• Check expiry dates of diaphragm and spermicidal gel
• Apply spermicidal cream/jelly around the rim and in the centre of the dome

• To maximize effectiveness, the diaphragm should be inserted less than 2 hours before vaginal sex and left in place for 6 to 8 hours afterward
• Find a comfortable position, Stand with one foot up on a chair or sit with knees apart, or lie down
• Hold the diaphragm with the dome facing down
• Insert the diaphragm into the vagina so that it covers the cervix; compress the sides of the diaphragm together with the fingers of one hand, and using the index finger as a guide, gently insert the diaphragm as far back in the vagina as it will go.
• To remove the diaphragm, hook a finger over or under the rim; pull down and out.
• If you have vaginal sex again within 6 hours, add another dose of vaginal spermicide cream/jelly. DO NOT remove the diaphragm; use an applicator to insert the spermicide.
• You can use a water or silicone based lubricant but avoid oil based lubricants because they will cause the latex to deteriorate.

Once you have removed the diaphragm:

• Wash the device with warm water and a mild soap; the diaphragm should be patted dry and dusted with baby powder to remove any moisture and placed in its carrying case.
• Avoid bathing, swimming or douching for 6 hours afterwards (showers are ok)

*Most women require a new diaphragm every two years. You may also need a different size after the birth of a baby, after a miscarriage/abortion, pelvic surgery or after a 10 pound weight gain or loss*

What can be the advantages of using the diaphragm?

• Can be inserted before sex play begins
• Women have control over contraception
• Effective immediately after insertion
• It’s very discrete and can fit easily into a purse
• It typically only needs replacing every 2 years
• You and your partner can’t feel it during sex

What can be the disadvantages of using the diaphragm?

• Sometimes difficult to insert or use.
• Not good for people who are allergic to spermicidal cream/jelly or latex
• Spermicidal cream/jelly can be messy
• Needs to be fitted by a doctor
• Must be comfortable with your body
• Does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

How can I get a diaphragm?

You require a fitting by a doctor and a prescription for a diaphragm. Diaphragms are available from pharmacies with a prescription.

How much does a diaphragm cost?

Approximately $65-$75 at local pharmacies.