All About the Cervical Cap
The history of the cervical cap is a colorful one. It was invented in the 19th century and rediscovered in 1908. The cervical cap competed with the rise of hormonal and IUD methods in the 1960s and never reached prominence among American women.
Today, the cervical cap remains a viable option for women in search of non-hormonal, reversible birth control. In this post, we'll cover many of the common curiosities around cervical caps and maybe even a few you haven't thought about.
Let's get started!
What is a cervical cap?
A cervical cap (known by the brand name FemCap) is a soft, dome-shaped silicone cup with a firm round rim. Before sex, you insert it deep into the vagina to cover the cervix.
How do cervical caps work?
The cervical cap rests against the cervix, forming a barrier that stops sperm from joining the egg. Without sperm fertilizing the egg, pregnancy cannot happen.
You should use the cervical cap with spermicide (a cream or gel that kills sperm) in order to optimally reduce your risk of pregnancy.
What are the benefits of using cervical caps?
There are many benefits to using a cervical cap. They're convenient, user-controlled, safe, and comfortable.
- Convenience and control
Its small size means your cervical cap can go wherever you go. Prior use of the cervical cap does not delay your ability to get pregnant.
- No interruptions You can insert the cervical cap 15 minutes to up to 40 hours before sex which means zero interruptions as things heat up.
- No hormones
Hormone contraceptives are not an option for some people, which makes cervical caps a good option.
- No interference with sensation
You cannot feel the cervical cap at all. Your partner rarely notices the cervical cap is there.
Your cervical caps is reusable for 1-2 years with proper care.
What are the disadvantages of using a cervical cap?
Cervical caps (in conjunction with spermicide) have proven to be a safe and effective contraceptive method. Like many others, they work best when used correctly during sex. This may be difficult for some users.
- You have to get a cervical exam by your clinician in order to determine the correct size cervical cap you need and to get a prescription.
- You must use it every time you have sex. The cervical cap can only effectively protect against pregnancy when it's in use, meaning you must use it every time you have vaginal sex. If, You may have to reposition . your cervical cap if it gets bumped out of place.
- You may need practice to correctly insert and position the cervical cap.
Always use your cervical cap in conjunction with spermicide. The combo must be inserted before sex and left inside for at least 6 hours after sex. If you have sex again within the 6-hour period, you must re-apply spermicide into your vagina.
The cervical cap should not be left in for more than 48 hours.
- The cervical cap does not prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV. Using condoms is the best way for reducing your risk of getting STIs and HIV.
- Spermicide can have side effects.
Using spermicide more than a few times a day can irritate the vagina and increase the risk of contracting STIs and HIV..
- You may need to be resized for a cervical cap.
Cervical caps are not a one-size-fits-all and the size you need may change as your body changes, especially after events such as pregnancy, miscarriage, or abortion.
- It cannot be used during menstruation.
Because the cervical cap will impede the flow of menstrual blood, itcannot be used during your period.
How do I use a cervical cap?
Using a cervical cap gets easier over time, so continue to practice until you feel comfortable. Your nurse or doctor will show you how to insert your cervical cap. Instructions are also included in the packaging.
- Wash your hands with soap and water.
- Add 1/4 teaspoon of spermicide into the cup and spread a thin layer on the flat part of the brim.
- Add another 1/2 teaspoon of spermicide into the groove between the brim and the dome, and spread a thin layer on the brim of the cap.
- Get into a comfortable position. You can try standing with one foot on a chair, sitting on the edge of a chair, lying down, or squatting.
- Using one hand, separate the lips of your vulva.
- With your other hand, squeeze the rim of your cervical cap and insert it so that the side with the dome and strap faces down. The long brim goes into your vagina first.
- Push the cervical cap deep into your vagina.
- Ensure your cervix is covered once your cervical cap is in place.
How do I remove my cervical cap?
Removing your cervical cap should be a bit easier than inserting it.
- Wash your hands with soap and water.
- Squat down.
- Use your fingers to grip the removal strap and rotate the cap.
- Push against the dome to break the suction.
- Hook your finger under the removal strap and gently pull the cap out.
How do I care for my cervical cap?
- After taking it out, wash the cervical cap with warm water and a little soap.
- Air dry your cervical cap—using powder or other materials pose a risk of infection.
- Store your cervical cap away from extreme heat or cold.
How do I get a cervical cap?
Cervical caps come in different sizes to accommodate our different shapes. You can get a cervical cap at a pharmacy, drugstore, or health center after your doctor prescribes the size that best fits you.
The FemCap cervical cap comes in three sizes:
- Small: for people who have never been pregnant
- Medium: for people who have had an abortion, a miscarriage, or a cesarean delivery
- Large: for people who have given birth vaginally
How much do cervical caps cost?
Costs associated with getting a cervical cap includes the cost of a doctor exam and the actual cervical cap, totaling anywhere from $0 to about $275. Spermicide can cost around $5 to $15 per kit. However, you may not have to pay the full costs if you have health insurance. Most insurance plans are required by law to cover most types of birth control, including cervical caps.
- The risk of pregnancy can be further decreased by using the cervical cap in tandem with other contraceptives such as a condom.
- Check your cervical cap regularly for holes, cracks, wrinkles, or weak spots. You can also fill the cup of your cervical cap with water to test for leaks.
- Your cervical cap may slightly change color over time.
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