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Everything you need to know about using the cervical cap



Among the myriad choices is the cervical cap, a lesser-known yet effective barrier method of contraception.

The cervical cap is a small, cup-shaped barrier device made of silicone that fits snugly over the cervix—the entrance to the uterus. Its primary function is to prevent pregnancy by blocking sperm from entering the uterus. Designed for comfort and effectiveness, the cap must be used in conjunction with spermicide to optimise its contraceptive efficacy.

Using the cervical cap involves a few straightforward steps, but attention to detail is crucial for ensuring its effectiveness. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Apply spermicide: Before inserting the cervical cap, fill its dome with spermicide to kill any sperm that comes into contact with the cap.
  2. Insertion: With clean hands, press the sides of the cap together and insert it into your vagina, ensuring it covers the cervix completely. It may take some practice to insert the cap correctly, but once in place, you shouldn’t feel it.
  3. Timing: Insert the cervical cap before any sexual activity, and make sure it stays in place for at least 6 hours after intercourse. However, it can be worn for up to 24-48 hours without needing to remove it for any reason.
  4. Removal: To remove, gently hook your finger under the rim or loop (if your cap has one) and pull it out. Wash it with mild soap and water before storing it in a clean, dry place.

Correct insertion and removal techniques are key to the cervical cap’s effectiveness, and using it with spermicide significantly increases its contraceptive capability.

The effectiveness of the cervical cap in preventing pregnancy varies based on whether the user has given birth vaginally. For women who have never given birth, the cervical cap is approximately 86% effective. For those who have had a vaginal birth, its effectiveness drops to around 71%. These statistics highlight the importance of following the correct usage guidelines to maximize its contraceptive potential.

While the cervical cap is safe for most women, some may experience side effects, such as:

  • Vaginal irritation: The cap or spermicide may cause irritation or discomfort.
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs): Some users may have an increased risk of UTIs.
  • Allergic reactions: Rarely, individuals may react to the silicone of the cap or the spermicide.

Consulting with a medical expert is essential to determine if the cervical cap is a suitable contraception method for you, especially if you have concerns about side effects or its effectiveness based on your medical history.

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