The cervical cap is a barrier method of
birth control. A cervical cap, which is made of rubber, fits tightly over the opening to the uterus
(the cervix). It is used with a spermicide. You can insert the cap ahead of time or just before sex. To work best, the cap should be left in place for 6 hours after sex. Do not leave it in for more than 48 hours total. If you have sex more than one time while the cap is in place, you'll need to add more spermicide and check the position of the cap. To do this, put a small amount of spermicide on your finger, then insert your finger into your vagina to reach the cap. Make sure the cap is still in place. Don't remove the cap.
The cap requires a prescription
from a doctor. Getting a cervical cap may require two visits
to a doctor: one visit to fit the device, and a return visit with
the cap already in place to be certain the woman is using it correctly.
less effective for women who have had a vaginal birth. It is a better choice
for women who have not had a vaginal delivery.
The difference in cervical cap failure rates for women who
have borne children vaginally and those who have not may be due to changes in
the cervix after vaginal delivery.
The cervical cap
does not protect against
sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including
HIV. The use of spermicides with nonoxynol-9 may
increase your risk of getting HIV/AIDS. So be sure to use a condom for STI
protection unless you know that you and your partner are
Failure rates for
barrier methods are higher than for most other methods of birth control. Other
disadvantages of barrier methods include the following:
Be sure to check the cap for any cracks, holes,
or other damage that would reduce its effectiveness. Avoid using any
petroleum-based vaginal creams, oils, or ointments. These can damage the
rubber. But water-based personal lubricants, such as Astroglide and K-Y Jelly,
are safe to use.
May 3, 2012
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Femi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology
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