April 13, 2024

Litum Health

Health Blog

Primary care and contraception: The cap

2 min read

A contraceptive diaphragm or cap is a circular dome made of thin, soft silicone that’s inserted into the vagina prior to sex. Once in place, the cervix is then covered so sperm cannot enter the womb and pregnancy is prevented.


How the cap works

The cap is a barrier method of contraception. Currently there is only one brand of cap available in the UK, Femcap which comes in three sizes.

Femcap should fit around 80% of women, with the contraception offered at GP surgeries, sexual health clinics and certain young people’s services. 

In order to prevent pregnancy, the cap needs to be used in combination with spermicide to kill sperm. It’s designed to only be used during sex, but should be left in for at least six hours afterwards. It can stay in place for a maximum of 48 hours.

For the best protection against STIs it’s advised that you use a condom as well.


Who can use a diaphragm or cap?

The majority of patients seeking to use the cap should have no problems. However, it may not suit certain patients, including those who:

  • Have vaginal muscles that aren’t strong enough to hold a diaphragm in place (possibly due to childbirth)
  • Have a cervix that’s in an usual position, or is an usual shape
  • Have an allergy or sensitivity to latex or the chemicals in spermicide
  • Suffer from repeated urinary tract infections
  • Have ever had toxic shock syndrome
  • Currently have a vaginal infection (they will need to wait until the infection has cleared before a cap can be inserted)
  • Are at a high risk of catching an STI, for example if they have more than one regular sexual partner


Increase your knowledge around contraception and sexual health with our online course

If you’re a healthcare professional who regularly gives advice to patients about their contraceptive options, you may well find our Primary care provider’s guide to contraception helpful.

Held entirely online, it offers the perfect solution for nurses, medical students and other front line health professionals to learn remotely. It also only takes one day to complete and is worth 8 hours of CPD.

The course looks at a range of contraceptive options, as well as how to apply the basics of contraception in a clinical setting. However, as it can apply to a number of different disciplines, spaces tend to get booked up well in advance. So, make sure you secure your place today to avoid disappointment!