Birth Control Options
What is it?
The cervical cap is a reusable barrier method of birth control that fits inside the vagina. It is a thimble-shaped silicone cap that fits snugly over the cervix, preventing sperm from getting inside.
- The cervical cap should always be used with a spermicide
- Women must have the cervical cap properly fitted by a health professional. This ensures the correct size so it will stay in place.
How does it work?
When positioned properly, the cervical cap places a physical barrier between the sperm and the cervix so that the sperm cannot reach the egg. The spermicide works to destroy sperm on contact.
- The cervical cap must be left in the vagina for 6- 8 hours after sex
- After use, the cervical cap can be washed with mild soap and water, air dried and stored in its case away from excessive heat and light
- Before each use it should be inspected for any small holes or tears
- If properly cared for, most cervical caps will last for 1 to 2 years
How effective is it?
There is a difference in effectiveness when used by women who have already given birth and women who have not:
- For women who have not given birth, the cervical cap is 91% effective with perfect use. With typical use, it is about 80% effective in preventing pregnancy.
- For women who have previously given birth, the cervical cap is significantly less effective: 74% effective with perfect use, and 60% effective with typical use.
What are the advantages?
- Does not contain hormones
- Provides some protection against certain sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Can be used in combination with a male condom to increase birth control effectiveness and to protect against STIs
- Offers women privacy and control because it can be inserted up to 6 hours before sex
What are the disadvantages?
- Requires proper insertion technique
- Cannot be used by people who are allergic to spermicides
- Does not protect against certain sexually transmitted infections
- Should not be used during menstruation (period)
- May cause vaginal odour and discharge
- In rare cases, the cervical cap may cause toxic shock syndrome if it is not removed within 48 hours
- May become dislodged during intercourse (See Emergency Contraception)
- Must be fitted and prescribed by a health professional