Birth Control: Cervical Cap
methods to prevent pregnancy, such as condoms or cervical caps, have been
around for centuries. The cervical cap covers the cervix and prevents semen
from entering the uterus. A version of the cervical cap has been used since the
late 1800s. The modern-day cervical cap was
approved by the FDA in 1988. Various brands have been available since then.
Currently, FemCap is the only available cervical cap in the United States.
What Is a Cervical Cap?
cervical cap is a reusable dome-shaped cap made from non-allergic enic silicone rubber.
It is inserted into the vagina to cover the cervix during sex. The cervical cap
is similar to the diaphragm. However, it is slightly smaller and fits more
tightly over the cervix.
How Does the Cervical Cap Work?
cervical cap prevents pregnancy by covering the cervix. It keeps sperm from
entering the uterus and fallopian tubes. If sperm cannot enter the fallopian
tubes to fertilize the egg, pregnancy cannot occur.
cervical cap must be used with spermicide for maximum effectiveness. The
spermicide stops sperm from moving. It is a second mode of defense against
How Do I Use a Cervical Cap?
You must have a
prescription to get a cervical cap. This is because the cervical cap needs to
be fitted. Visit your doctor or healthcare clinic to make sure the cervical cap
is the right method of birth control option for you.
insert the cervical cap:
spermicide in the dome of the cap and spread a thin layer on the rim of the
a small additional amount of spermicide in the folded area between the rim and
your labia with one hand.
the other hand, squeeze the brim of the cervical cap.
the cervical cap into your vagina, dome side down.
the cap back towards the rectum and then up towards the cervix.
your fingers to make certain the cervix is completely covered.
you have sex, make certain the cervical cap is still in place. If you have sex
multiple times, you do not need to remove the cap. However, you should insert
more spermicide. You should also check to make sure the cap is still in position.
cervical cap must stay in place for at
least six hours following intercourse. Do not remove the cap before
then. Doing so greatly lowers the effectiveness. The spermicide has to have
time to kill any sperm before you uncover your cervix. Do not leave the cap in
for more than 48 hours. It can increase your risk of bacterial infection.
remove the cap:
your hands with soap and water.
down, and insert your fingers into your vagina.
the removal cap, and rotate the cap as you push the dome to release the
the cap out.
the cap with soap and water.
the cap air dry.
Cervical Cap Effectiveness
efficacy of the cervical cap depends on two things. The first is whether you
use it correctly. The second is whether you’ve ever been pregnant.
to Planned Parenthood, the failure rate for the cervical cap is 14 percent for women who have never been pregnant.
There is a significant loss in the efficacy of cervical caps in women who have
been pregnant. According to Planned Parenthood, the failure rate increases to
29 percent in women who have had a vaginal birth.
can make the cap more effective by always using it exactly as prescribed. It is
also important to regularly check your cap for small holes and other damage. A
damaged cap should be replaced immediately. However, discoloration is not a
spots may be easier to see if you hold the cap up to a light.
Benefits of the Cervical Cap
it is not the most effective form of birth control, the cervical cap is very
convenient. Benefits of the cap include:
ability to insert it in advance without interrupting intimacy
able to use it multiple times
side effects from hormones
small amount of protection against gonorrhea and chlamydia
Disadvantages of the Cervical Cap
cervical cap also has the following disadvantages:
is not the most effective form of birth control
does not protect against most sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
is easy to use incorrectly
can slide, or be pushed out of place, during intercourse
can be uncomfortable for the woman or her sexual partner
cannot be used during menstruation
the use of spermicide, which may cause irritation in either partner
The cap also requires
a woman to insert her fingers into her vagina. This is not just necessary when
inserting the cap. Women also need to check that the cap is in place before
sex. Women who do not like this should use other forms of contraception.
Risks of Using the Cervical Cap
women find the cervical cap safe and easy to use. However, in rare cases it can
cause serious side effects. Talk to your doctor if you have any of the
while the cap is in place
inside the cap when you remove it
itching or irritation
or foul smelling discharge
In addition, women at high risk for
STIs should consider another method of contraception. Most spermicides used with
the cap contain nonoxynol-9 (N-9).
N-9 can increase your susceptibility to HIV and other STIs. Risk is
particularly high when N-9 is used multiple times a day.