The cervical cap is a barrier method of
birth control. A cervical cap, which is made of rubber, fits tightly over the opening to the uterus
(the cervix). It is used with a spermicide. You can insert the cap ahead of time or just before sex. To work best, the cap should be left in place for 6 hours after sex. Do not leave it in for more than 48 hours total. If you have sex more than one time while the cap is in place, you'll need to add more spermicide and check the position of the cap. To do this, put a small amount of spermicide on your finger, then insert your finger into your vagina to reach the cap. Make sure the cap is still in place. Don't remove the cap.
The cap requires a prescription
from a doctor. Getting a cervical cap may require two visits
to a doctor: one visit to fit the device, and a return visit with
the cap already in place to be certain the woman is using it correctly.
Effectiveness in preventing pregnancy
less effective for women who have had a vaginal birth. It is a better choice
for women who have not had a vaginal delivery.
The difference in cervical cap failure rates for women who
have borne children vaginally and those who have not may be due to changes in
the cervix after vaginal delivery.
Effectiveness in preventing sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
The cervical cap
does not protect against
sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including
HIV. The use of spermicides with nonoxynol-9 may
increase your risk of getting HIV/AIDS. So be sure to use a condom for STI
protection unless you know that you and your partner are
Advantages of cervical cap
It does not affect future fertility for either
the woman or the man.
It is used only at the time of sexual
It is safe to use while breast-feeding.
is less expensive than hormonal methods of birth control.
Disadvantages of cervical cap
Failure rates for
barrier methods are higher than for most other methods of birth control. Other
disadvantages of barrier methods include the following:
The cervical cap
cannot be used during a woman's period.
Some women experience odor
problems if the cervical cap is left in place longer than 24
The cervical cap can be difficult to place properly or to
Use of the cervical cap can irritate the cervix. The
cervical cap should not be used by women who currently have a vaginal or
cervical infection or who have an abnormal
Pap smear and the cause is not known. Use of the
cervical cap may increase the risk of an abnormal Pap smear, requiring more
frequent Pap test follow-up.
The cervical cap is less effective in
preventing pregnancy after a woman has had a vaginal delivery.
people are embarrassed to use this method or feel the method may interrupt
foreplay or intercourse.
A couple must be comfortable with using
the cap and be prepared to use it every time they have sex.
Be sure to check the cap for any cracks, holes,
or other damage that would reduce its effectiveness. Avoid using any
petroleum-based vaginal creams, oils, or ointments. These can damage the
rubber. But water-based personal lubricants, such as Astroglide and K-Y Jelly,
are safe to use.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.