10 Things You Need to Know About Diaphragms, Because They Might Be The Birth Control You've Been Looking For

I think it's time for the diaphragm to make a comeback. As my friends and I were recently trading horror stories and advice at our various experiences with birth control, the diaphragm came up. And we all realized that we don't know that much about this type , but what we do know, we like. So why isn't it a more popular option? I feel like at one point in the 20th century diaphragm birth control was incredibly common, but it's certainly not anymore. It turns out, it's harder to get in the US than it used to be, you have to have a doctor order it for you. It's annoying, but it also means that your doctor has a chance to teach you how to use it correctly, which is obviously super important. 

Especially because before researching this the one thing I knew about diaphragms is that they go up your vagina and that in one Sex In The City episode Carried pulled Samantha's out or something and I remember thinking "that's the sort of thing my friends and I would do".

Anyway, here are some things you should know about diaphragms, so you can see if they're the solution to your birth control woes. If you want to know more be sure to ask your doctor about getting one fitted!

1. They're hormone-free

Yes. Hormonal birth control works great for some women, I have friends that have been on the Pill for over a decade and swear by it, but a lot also question whether it's really right for them. Plus, hormones are powerful and they can make some of us go a little nuts. Diaphragms don't mess with your hormones at all.

2. They're more effective than you might think

Or, maybe condoms are less effective than you might think. Diaphrams are 94 percent effective with perfect use and 84 percent of effective with actual use. That may seem not as high as you'd like, but the truth is most birth control isn't as affective as we might like. Emma McGowan points out:

"Condoms, when used correctly, have a 98% effectiveness rate for preventing pregnancy. However, when we look at actual use, they’re only 85% effective. That’s just one measly percentage point higher than the actual use effectiveness rates for diaphragms."

3. You're in control

No worrying whether or not your partner will have a condom or you need to bring one. And no horror stories of fighting over a condom or finding out someone has taken it off without your consent. You carry it in your handbag, you're protected when you want to be protected. The agency is all yours.

4. Money, money, money

You have to buy your pills every month, and you need to buy condoms each time you have sex (which yes, means at the moment I spend zero dollars on condoms but in my ideal world it's a very expensive habit). Diaphragms cost up to $75 and they last two years.

5. No procedure

You just put it up there when you want it up there. I have the non-hormonal IUD, which I really like, but it's not fun to get put in and I'm not looking forward to when I have to get it removed. Diaphragms are much less traumatic. 

6. It's reversible

There's no longterm damage to your body or your reproductive system. All it does is block the sperm, so if you decide you want to get pregnant you can just... unblock it.

7. You can't feel it

Most people don't feel it during sex, so it gives a more natural experience. No more complaining that you just don't like the feeling of condoms, there's another option. 

8. It can get knocked out of the way

That being said, it can become dislodged during sex or if you're wearing it while you're out and about, so that's something that needs to be watched out for. Obviously if it becomes dislodged it's no longer effective, meaning insertion and fitting are really, really important.

9. No STI protection

Like a lot of birth control that isn't the condom, the diaphragm doesn't provide STI protection, so it may only be suitable if you're in a relationship with a partner who is clean and that you trust to remain so.

10. It doesn't ruin the momentum

One of the best things about diaphragms is that you can put them in hours before sex, which means that there's no stopping and awkward fumbling in the moment. It's already done. So you get right down to getting down.

Images: Ben Raynal/Flickrl Giphy

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