Diaphragm: A muscular and connective tissue structure separating the chest and abdominal cavities. The diaphragm contracts and expands in correlation with the lungs during breathing.


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Diaphragm, cervical cap, and cervical shield

These barrier methods block the sperm from entering the cervix (the opening to your womb) and reaching the egg.

  • The diaphragm is a shallow latex cup.
  • The cervical cap is a thimble-shaped latex cup. It often is called by its brand name, FemCap.
  • The cervical shield is a silicone cup that has a one-way valve that creates suction and helps it fit against the cervix. It often is called by its brand name, Lea's Shield.

The diaphragm and cervical cap come in different sizes, and you need a doctor to "fit" you for one. The cervical shield comes in one size, and you will not need a fitting.

Before having sex, add spermicide (to block or kill sperm) to the devices. Then place them inside your vagina to cover your cervix. You can buy spermicide gel or foam at a drug store.

All three of these barrier methods must be left in place for 6 to 8 hours after having sex to prevent pregnancy. The diaphragm should be taken out within 24 hours. The cap and shield should be taken out within 48 hours.

Source: OWH (DHHS)2

Introduction: Diaphragm

Diaphragms. Each diaphragm is a shallow, flexible cup made of latex or soft rubber that is inserted into the vagina before intercourse, blocking sperm from entering the uterus. Spermicidal cream or jelly should be used with a diaphragm. The diaphragm should remain in place for 6 to 8 hours after intercourse to prevent pregnancy, but it should be removed within 24 hours. Traditional latex diaphragms must be the correct size to work properly, and a health care provider can determine the proper fit.

A diaphragm should be replaced after 1 or 2 years. Women also need to be measured again for a diaphragm after giving birth, having pelvic surgery, or gaining or losing more than 15 pounds.3 Newer diaphragms, such as the Silcs diaphragm, are designed to fit most women and do not require fitting by a health care provider. The Silcs diaphragm is currently in clinical trials for approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other regulatory agencies.

Source: NICHD (NIH)3

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Diaphragm: The musculofibrous partition that separates the Thoracic Cavity from the Abdominal Cavity. Contraction of the diaphragm increases the volume of the thoracic cavity aiding Inhalation.4

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  1. Source: RDCRN (NCATS/NIH): rarediseasesnetwork.org/ cms/ cegir/ Learn-More/ Glossary
  2. Source: OWH (DHHS): womenshealth.gov/ publications/ our-publications/ fact-sheet/ birth-control-methods.html
  3. Source: NICHD (NIH): nichd.nih.gov/ health/ topics/ contraception/ conditioninfo/ Pages/ types.aspx
  4. Source: MeSH (U.S. National Library of Medicine)

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Note: This site is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. See your doctor or other qualified medical professional for all your medical needs.