Sponge, Diaphragms and Cervical cap – short guide to barrier contraception

Women who consider barrier contraception method as the main method of preventing pregnancy can choose one of several types of vaginal contraceptives.






Cervical cap



Women should always use a spermicidal agent that will destroy and immobilize the spermatozoids in combination with each of the listed vaginal contraceptives.

Spermicides are supplied with the barrier contraceptive, yet you can buy them separately, if necessary.

The most effective spermicidal agent is Nonoxynol-9.

Gel based on lactic acid is used as a spermicide less commonly.

How do spermicides work?


Nonoxynol-9 causes major alterations of the surface membranes of spermatozoa, thus immobilizing them.

the spermatozoids


Lactic acid lowers the pH level of the vaginal secretion, thus slowing down the mobility of the spermatozoids.

With the correct use of vaginal contraceptives, a barrier is being created inside of the vagina, which significantly impedes the travel of the sperm to the cervix.

Without a spermicide, sponge, cap and diaphragm do not work, and can not protect against an unwanted pregnancy.

Effectiveness of different types of vaginal contraceptives*






Cervical cap

Despite the low effectiveness, barrier birth control methods are popular among millions of women all over the world. As a rule, vaginal contraceptives become the choice of women, who can not use more reliable hormonal contraceptives.

Women who use vaginal contraceptives should keep in mind that unlike male and female condoms, the diaphragm, sponge and cap do not provide protection against sexually transmitted infections.

Therefore, if one or both of the sexual partners require a reliable protection against infectious diseases, they should use male (latex) or female (polyurethane) condoms for this purpose.

Several facts about Diaphragm, Sponge and Cervical cap

  • Vaginal contraceptives should not be used during menstruation.

  • With their regular use, the risk of developing cystitis increases.

  • They can be pulled out of the vagina 5-6 hours after sex.

  • If more than 3 hours have elapsed since you put the sponge, cap or diaphragm, you need to introduce into the vagina an additional dose of spermicide before the sexual intercourse.

  • Vaginal contraceptives can be kept in the vagina continuously, for 24 hours.

Millions of women around the world rely on the barrier contraception methods. However, this method is not reliable enough and is usually considered as an alternative birth control method, when hormonal contraception is contraindicated or causes serious side effects.