What Types of Diaphragms are Available, Which Is Right For Me?

Aug 10, 2022

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What Types of Diaphragms are Available, Which Is Right For Me?

Diaphragms have been used as a method of birth control for nearly a century. Over that time, they have evolved in order to improve efficacy, comfort, and convenience. Today, there are several types of diaphragms on the market to choose from to meet your contraceptive needs. Let’s explore the different types of contraceptive diaphragms.

Materials

Diaphragms are often made of latex, but more recently, silicone versions have become available. Silicone is considered a hypoallergenic material, less likely to cause skin irritation. Newer silicone versions open up the diaphragm as a contraceptive option for women who have a sensitivity to latex.

Related: Why You Might Want to Ask Your Online OBGYN about Diaphragms

Traditional Diaphragms

There are four traditional diaphragm types that are available today:

  • Wide seal rim
  • Arcing spring
  • Coil spring
  • Flat spring

The basic concept of a traditional diaphragm is to create a physical barrier that blocks the cervical opening. Latex or silicone material is stretched over a metal spring that forms a circular, flexible rim. The rim can be temporarily pinched and distorted for insertion and removal of the diaphragm. Once inserted, the springs open into proper placement, blocking the cervical opening.

Traditional diaphragms generally come as a set of different sizes of varying diameters that your doctor will use to find the proper fit. Sometimes there are as many as eight different sizes to choose from. That means that traditional diaphragms require an in-person doctor visit.

If you want to use a traditional diaphragm, your doctor will help select which type, from wide-seal to arcing spring, that will work best for your anatomy. Factors to consider include variances in pelvic muscle tone. A proper fit requires that the diaphragm stays in place as you change positions or move around. Discomfort and trouble with urination are also signs that you have an improper fit.

Traditional diaphragms are an effective method of contraception, with only 6 in 100 women becoming pregnant with perfect use and 12 in 100 for typical use, according to CDC studies.

Contoured Diaphragm

Traditional diaphragms have become more difficult to find and come with the uncomfortable requirement of getting an in-person fitting from a physician. In today’s fast-paced society, there’s no wonder women decided they don’t have time to deal with that process anymore. In 2013, a new one-size-fits-most option was introduced as an alternative to the traditional diaphragms: it’s called the SILCS diaphragm, more commonly branded as “Caya.”

Caya is a uniquely designed diaphragm that is shaped to fit a woman’s contours. Looking much different from the traditional versions of diaphragms, Caya includes additional features such as a removal dome, contoured rim, and grip dimples. This new type of diaphragm still features the basics of a traditional diaphragm, including a spring rim and barrier material made of silicone. Ergonomic improvements make this contoured diaphragm stand out from the older versions.

The best part about Caya is that it comes only in one size–that means that no in-person fitting is required from your physician. Caya has been found to fit 99% of women who try it. A prescription is still required, along with patient education about how to properly use the diaphragm in pregnancy prevention. Caya’s effectiveness rates are at about 14 pregnancies in 100 women per year if used perfectly.

So, Which Diaphragm Type Should I Use?

Both traditional diaphragms and the new contoured options are valid non-hormonal contraceptive methods. If you’re relying solely on a diaphragm and spermicide for pregnancy prevention, you may prefer to stick with a traditional diaphragm, which has slightly higher effectiveness. For convenience, most women might opt for the contoured diaphragm solely because it doesn’t require an awkward fitting at the OBGYN’s office, and it has more ergonomic features.

If you’re considering trying a diaphragm or upgrading your current one, My Virtual Physician has gynecologists available to meet with you virtually and discuss your options. We have partnered with Caya to get your contoured diaphragm to you as simply as possible.

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