What is the Cervical Cap?
The cervical cap is a latex, dome-shaped
device designed to fit snugly over the cervix. It has a narrow groove around
the inner surface of the rim that creates a seal when it is placed over the
How Does the Cap Work?
The cap is a barrier -- it blocks the
passage of sperm from the vagina through the cervix into the uterus and
tubes thereby preventing the fertilization of a ripened egg. It is designed
to be used with a spermicidal jelly for maximum effectiveness.
How Effective Is It?
The cap has been found to range in
effectiveness from 82% to 94% depending on consistency of use.
Directions For Use Of The Cap
- Fill the cap 1/3 - 1/2 full with
- Lie down, squat, or raise one leg on a
- Squeeze the rim together with thumb and
forefinger and insert in the vagina.
- Using your forefinger and middle finger
push the cap deeply into the vagina so that the opening covers the
- Push firmly into place and squeeze the
dome to expel as much air as possible.
- Check for correct placement by running
your finger around the rim; you should not feel any of the cervix
outside the cap.
- Check the fit by wiggling and tugging
firmly on the dome and then running your finger around the rim. If the
cap remains in place, it is correctly inserted.
- Check the fit before and after each act
of intercourse to detect a possible dislodgment. If the cap dislodges
during intercourse, push it back in place and insert an applicator of
spermicidal foam or jelly right away. Contact the clinic as soon as
possible to discuss the possible use of the emergency contraceptive pill
(Emergency Contraceptive Pill - Frequently
Asked Questions), which may be prescribed in the first 72 hours
after unprotected intercourse.
- Leave your cap in place for a minimum
of eight hours following your last act of intercourse.
- The cap may be left in place for up to
48 hours at a time.
- To remove the cap, hook your finger
under the rim to break the suction and pull down off the cervix.
Care of the Cap
- Clean the cap thoroughly after each use
with mild, unperfumed soap and warm water. Turn the cap inside out and
clean inside the rim with a soft toothbrush. Rinse thoroughly and dry
carefully. Store in a cool dry place.
- If your cap develops an unpleasant
odour, soak it for 20 minutes in a solution of one cup warm water to one
tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar.
- Replace your cap after one year of
- Do not use your cap during your period.
To date, an association between cervical cap use and Toxic Shock
Syndrome (TSS) has not been established; however, it remains a
possibility. Symptoms of TSS include sudden high fever, vomiting,
diarrhea, dizziness, fainting or a rash that looks like sunburn. If you
experience a high fever and one or more of these symptoms, remove your
cap and contact a physician immediately.
- Use a back-up method of birth control
such as a condom for the first eight to nine times you have intercourse
or until you are confident of the insertion technique and have not
experienced any dislodgments.
- Do not use oil-based lubricants or
greasy substances such as cocoa butter, cold cream, petroleum jelly,
mineral oil, vegetable oil or Vaseline, which may cause rapid
deterioration of the rubber. If extra lubrication is desired during
intercourse, K-Y jelly or a spermicidal jelly may be used.
- Have your cervical cap refitted after
pregnancy, or with a weight change of +/- 10 lbs.
- You may occasionally notice small
amounts of blood inside your cap upon removal. If this happens regularly
or if there are large amounts, return to the clinic for a check-up.
- Return for a check-up if you experience
discomfort after insertion of the cap or during intercourse, unpleasant
vaginal odour or an irritating vaginal discharge.
Advantages of Cap Use
- an effective method when used
- allows for more spontaneous sex than
many other barrier methods
- smaller than a diaphragm
- requires less jelly than a diaphragm
- no need to add extra contraceptive
jelly if intercourse is repeated
- less likely than a diaphragm to
aggravate recurrent bladder infections
Disadvantages of Cap Use
- may be harder to learn to use than a
- correct placement must be checked
before and after intercourse
- may occasionally be dislodged
- follow-up care may be difficult to
obtain outside large centres
- cap should not be used:
- during a vaginal infection
- if a recent Pap test has been
- for three months after a pelvic
- if there are warts or cysts on the
cervix that interfere with suction
- for six weeks after a delivery or
second trimester abortion or three weeks after a first trimester
The Cap and STDs (Sexually Transmitted
The cap offers very good protection against
pregnancy and may offer some protection against some STDs. Many
women, however, are also choosing to ask their partners to use condoms to
provide a more reliable barrier to these common infections. Our counsellors
will be pleased to discuss "safer sex" practices with you.
Reproduced from information supplied by
Calgary Health Services, Family Planning Clinic, November 1992.
Clinic Locations in Grey Bruce