Diaphragm birth control may be the perfect choice for women seeking a convenient and temporary birth control method.
What is a Diaphragm
Unlike hormone birth control pills or copper IUDS that must be inserted into the cervix, the diaphragm is a latex, cone-shaped device that a woman covers with spermicide and inserts into her vagina prior to sexual activity. Once inserted, the diaphragm completely covers the cervix, thus preventing pregnancy.
This method of birth control works in two ways:
- The contraption blocks the opening to the uterus
- The applied spermicide stops sperm from moving up to the reproductive organs
The diaphragm can be obtained from a simple visit to the gynecologist where he/she will custom fit a diaphragm for your body. The cost of a diaphragm varies between $15- $75 and, with proper care, the unit should last up to two years.
Advantages of Diaphragm Birth Control
Although not for everyone, diaphragm birth control has many advantages:
- The wearer can participate in sex during menstruation
- The device cannot be felt by either partner
- Diaphragms are portable, they can be carried in your purse with ease
- Diaphragms can be used while breastfeeding
- This birth control option has no effects on hormones
Disadvantages of the Diaphragm
If you're looking at options for birth control, it's important to consider the disadvantages of each type. The diaphragm may have it's share of advantages, but the following disadvantages should be considered:
- This method does not protect against STDs. It is recommended the diaphragm be used in conjunction with a condom
- The unit must be removed within 24 hours or it could cause Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)
- Women using the diaphragm must apply spermicide to the device prior to use. This means you'll need plenty of spermicide on hand and the spermicidal cream must be reapplied every two hours during sexual intercourse
- The diaphragm must be fitted by a physician, increasing its cost. If you experience sudden weight fluctuations or have just given birth, the device may need to be refitted
- Some woman find the unit difficult to insert
- The diaphragm isn't foolproof; the unit could be pushed out of place during vigorous sexual activity
Side Effects and Effectiveness
When used correctly, the effectiveness of the diaphragm is 94 percent. This means, 6 out of 100 users may become pregnant with its use. It's important to note these statistics apply to women who use it perfectly.The average woman may not insert the device properly each and every time. Considering this, the overall reported successful pregnancy prevention rate is 84 percent. In other words, it's a safe bet to assume 16 out of 100 women may become pregnant when wearing the diaphragm. Compared to other forms of birth control, the diaphragm is one of the least effective for preventing pregnancy.
With all forms of birth control, there are side effects to consider. The following side effects have been reported with diaphragm use:
- Women wearing the device may experience frequent urinary tract infections. To prevent the onset of a UTI, urinate before and after diaphragm use. If symptoms persist, see your physician.
- Women may experience vaginal irritation. Often, the wearer may have a latex or spermicidal allergic reaction. In mild cases, switching spermicide may clear up the problem. Otherwise, a latex allergy may be the cause. In that case, seek counsel.
Women wearing the diaphragm will need to seek professional medical advice if they experience any of the following symptoms:
- Irregular spotting or bleeding
- Pain, redness, or itching in the genital areas
- Vulva swelling or redness
- Unusual or foul smelling discharge
- The sensation of burning during urination
- A feeling of discomfort when the unit is inserted into the vagina
Any of the above symptoms may indicate an infection or other medical condition requiring prompt medical attention.
The Right Choice
There are plenty of options available for birth control. Women seeking to prevent pregnancy should speak with their health care provider to find an acceptable and successful birth control method that works for their individual needs.