What Is a Cervical Cap and How Do You Use It?

What Is a Cervical Cap and How Do You Use It?

The cervical cap might not be the first birth control option that comes to mind, but in a world where women’s reproductive health is often hushed and mismanaged, it’s worthy of attention.

Especially if hormonal birth control has not been your friend—hey, you’re not alone.

This article is your no-nonsense guide to understanding what a cervical cap is, how it works, and why it might be the right choice for you.

We’re here to shed light on this often-overlooked option, providing you with the information you need to make informed decisions about your body.

So, let’s dive in and explore everything there is to know about the cervical cap, from its uses and benefits to its potential drawbacks.

In this article: 📝

  • What is a cervical cap?
  • How to use a cervical cap
  • Is a cervical cap painful?
  • What are the side effects of cervical cap?
  • Cervical cap advantages and disadvantages
  • Who is not a candidate for a cervical cap?
  • Does a cervical cap require a doctor’s visit?
  • How long does a cervical cap last?

What is a cervical cap?

Let’s get real about cervical cap birth control.

This nifty little device is more than just a rubber cervical cup; it’s a game-changer in the world of contraception.

Inserted into the vagina and held by suction, it covers the cervix, preventing sperm from entering the uterus—and not a synthetic hormone in sight.

What does a cervical cap do?

Essentially, the cervical cap acts as a barrier to prevent sperm from reaching the egg.

When used with spermicide, it’s like adding an extra layer of security: the spermicide immobilizes or kills sperm, boosting the cap’s effectiveness.

But this barrier method isn’t just about blocking sperm; it’s about giving you control, offering a contraceptive choice that’s less talked about but definitely worth considering.

So, if you’re looking for an alternative to the usual suspects of pills or IUDs, the cervical cap might just be your perfect match

What size is a cervical cap?

Picture a small, silicone sailor’s hat designed to snugly cover your cervix, creating a physical barrier that keeps those persistent sperm at bay.

But much like the female body, the cervical cap comes in different sizes, and it’s crucial to find the right fit for both comfort and effectiveness.

In the U.S., FemCap® is the go-to brand and comes available by prescription in three sizes.

Factors like childbirth history and cervical size will determine what size sailor cap is for you, but it is your healthcare provider who will fit you exactly.

How effective is a cervical cap?

It depends almost entirely on whether you’ve given birth before.

According to the Health Harvard website, for those who haven’t, the cervical cap is about 81% effective.

And if you have, effectiveness drops to approximately 72%. 🤯

Elsewhere, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) puts the rate of pregnancy at 17 to 23% (that’s 18 or more pregnancies per 100 women).

And the NHS (in the UK) places cervical cap effectiveness at around 88%, with the cause for not working usually being down to forgetting to use it or not inserting it properly.

Really, like other birth control methods, the cervical cap is most effective when used correctly every time during sexual intercourse.

How to use a cervical cap

Let’s be clear from the start: Inserting a cervical cap takes some practice.

There’s a lot of folding and positioning it inside the vagina to ensure it covers the cervix tightly and completely.

You’re not expected to be a pro the first time around (you will be eventually), and when it comes to contraceptives, it’s better to be precise than efficient.

When you’re ready:

  1. Wash your hands generously (we need to protect those vaginal pH levels)
  2. Start by finding your cervix with your fingers first. It’s shaped like a small little donut with the same texture as the tip of your nose. Specific.
  3. Following the instructions, apply spermicide gel on the inside and outside of the dome area of the cervical cap, on the flat part of the brim, and in the groove between the rim and dome.
  4. Next, hold the cap with the inside of the dome facing up and squeeze the sides of the cap together.
  5. Now, the slightly tricky but totally doable part: slide the cap into your vagina and make sure it covers your cervix completely.
  6. When you’re done, simply hook your finger under the strap and pull it out. Easy-peasy, cervix-squeezy!

Well, almost. 😅 In time, this routine can become a quick and straightforward part of your sexual health routine.

FYI, your cervical cap should stay in place for six hours after sex but never longer than 48 hours.

And if you’ve a steamy marathon in mind during this time frame, there’s no need to reapply spermicide in between. 🥵

Is a cervical cap painful?

For most women, using a cervical cap is painless—ideally, you shouldn’t feel it all.

The key is proper sizing and insertion.

When it’s the right size and nestled in just right, it’s like it’s not even there.

Yes, the first few tries might feel a bit awkward, like learning any new skill, but pain? That’s not part of the deal.

If you do experience discomfort or pain, that’s your cue to chat with your healthcare provider.

It might just be a sizing issue or a simple adjustment in how you’re inserting it.

Remember, your comfort is paramount, and with the right fit, your cervical cap should feel like a natural part of your body, not an intruder.

Can your partner feel your cervical cap?

Most partners don’t feel the cervical cap during intercourse.

It’s like a stealthy little secret, snugly fitting over your cervix without making a fuss.

Some partners might sense something, but it’s usually not bothersome or a mood-killer.

So, go ahead, get close and personal without worry—your cervical cap’s got you covered, literally.

What are the side effects of cervical cap?

Cervical cap side effects tend to be few and far between, but there are a few ripples to be aware of.

Vaginal irritation or discomfort tends to be the most typical, especially if you’re still getting the hang of inserting it correctly.

There’s also a slightly increased risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs), so keeping up with hygiene is key.

If you’re allergic to silicone or spermicide, you might also experience a reaction.

And let’s not forget about the possibility of cap dislodgement during some… let’s say, enthusiastic activities.

For many women, the cervical cap is a hassle-free, effective method of birth control.

Just keep an eye on how your body feels and reacts, and you’ll navigate these waters just fine.

Cervical cap advantages and disadvantages

There’s no such thing as perfect, and the cervical cap contraceptive is no exception.

Let’s weigh up the cervical cap pros and cons one by one:

Cervical cap advantages:

Cervical cap benefits include:

  • Control and independence: It puts contraception directly in your hands, quite literally.
  • Non-hormonal: No hormonal side effects to worry about. 🥳
  • Low cervical cap cost: One cap can typically last a year, making it cost-effective and eco-friendly.
  • Sexual spontaneity: It can be inserted hours before intercourse, perfect for those ‘planned but unplanned’ moments. Plus, it means foreplay can be enjoyed uninterrupted. 😏
  • Environmentally friendly: Less waste compared to single-use contraceptives.

Cervical cap disadvantages

We’ve mentioned a few potential snags with the cervical cap, but it’s worth a refresher:

  • Insertion learning curve: It takes practice (and patience) to get the hang of it. 🧐
  • Risk of displacement: Yes, cap displacement can happen, especially if still in the learning phase.
  • Increased UTI Risk: There’s a slight uptick in the chance of urinary tract infections—this is mainly linked to the use of spermicides.
  • Allergic reactions: Potential for allergies to either the rubber or spermicide.
  • Does not protect against STDs: It’s vital to note that the cervical cap does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases or infections. Use with caution (and stay on top of your vaginal hygiene).
  • Not for everyone: For those with certain medical conditions or who are uncomfortable with internal contraceptives, a cervical cap may be a hard pass (we’ve the details down below).

What is an advantage of a cervical cap over a diaphragm?

Both are barriers, both are hormone-free, and both are in your control—so which contraceptive comes out on top?

One notable advantage of a cervical cap over a diaphragm is its size.

The cervical cap is smaller and generally considered to be more comfortable and easier to insert.

The other perk of the cervical cap? It can stay in 24 hours longer than a diaphragm, keeping you protected for those steamy two-day breaks away. 😉

But in the great diaphragm vs cervical cap debate, it really comes down to personal preference.

Who is not a candidate for a cervical cap?

There are times and conditions when the cervical cap may be a no-no.

This can include:

Similarly, it’s important to contact your doctor if you experience any of the following when using a cervical cap:

In rare cases, using a cervical cup (or diaphragm) has led to toxic shock syndrome. It may not be common, but keep an eye out for symptoms such as fever, dizziness, flu-like symptoms, and vomiting or diarrhea.

Does a cervical cap require a doctor’s visit?

Yes, a doctor’s visit is necessary to get the right size and learn proper insertion techniques.

After that, you may need regular check-ups to ensure that the fit remains correct—especially after events like childbirth, abortion, or any significant changes in weight.

And then, of course, as with any contraceptive method, consulting with your doctor is a solid move to determine the best method of contraception for you.

If cervical caps can teach us anything, it’s that there is no one size fits all.

How long does a cervical cap last?

A well-cared-for cervical cap can last for about one year, making it pretty reliable.

And its durability means that you won’t need to replace it as frequently as other single-use or short-term contraceptive methods—so that’s extra points for cost-effectiveness.

But it’s not just about time and material; proper care is key.

This includes cleaning it according to the manufacturer’s instructions after each use and storing it in a safe, clean place.

And regularly examine it for any weak spots or holes.

Its lifespan is as good as the care you give it, so treat it well!

Also, keep in mind that life events, like pregnancy, abortion, major weight changes, or pelvic surgery might mean a resize.

Offering effectiveness, discretion, and eco-friendly, wallet-loving longevity, the cervical cap is no fleeting trend in the expansive world of birth control.

This little piece of silicone is an assertion of choice and control in the realm of your sexual and reproductive health.

Remember, your body, your health, and your lifestyle all have a part to play in making an informed, confident decision that benefits you.

So, if you’re still unsure if a cervical cap is for you, chatting with your healthcare provider will most certainly help.

Keep the conversation going!

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