Cervical Cap (FemCap)

Cervical Cap (FemCap)

Table Of Contents

What is a Cervical Cap?

A cervical cap (popularly known by the brand name FemCap), is a small cup shaped object made from silicone. It is inserted deep into the vagina, before sex, and rests against the cervix to prevent pregnancy. They are a safe and effective birth control option.

Cervical caps are very similar to diaphragms, except they’re much smaller and less common. However, women who find it difficult to keep a diaphragm in place tend to have more success with cervical caps.

How do they Prevent Pregnancy?

The FemCap rests against the cervix, forming a barrier which blocks sperm from getting through. Without sperm fertalizing an egg, it is impossible to become pregnant.

The cap should be used in conjunction with spermicide. This helps to immobilize sperm and further prevent it from travelling through the cervix. Risk of pregnancy is much lower when using the cap and spermicide together.

What Are the Benefits?

There are many benefits to using the cap, including:

  • Easy to use
  • No hormonal side effects
  • No prescription required (unlike the patch)
  • Generally comfortable during sex (unlike male condoms or female condoms)
  • Can be used during breast feeding (unlike birth control pills)
  • Can be inserted up to 6 hours before sex
  • Re-usable for up to 2 years
  • Cost effective
  • Reversible at any time if you decide you would like to become pregnant

What Are the Disadvantages?

A major drawback of the cervical cap is that it cannot be used while a woman is on her period. Therefore, women who rely on the cap as their only birth control method should abstain from sex or use a different form of birth control during this time.

Effectiveness of the FemCap is considerably lower for women who have already given birth. For these women, a bigger cap or diaphragm may be required. If neither of these are recommended by your doctor, a different birth control option should be considered.

The cap may also be difficult to insert correctly or quickly. Some women have trouble reaching far enough into their vagina to insert it properly. In addition, it can be pushed out of place by heavy thrusting, certain sex positions, or penis sizes. Therefore, adjustments may be required before or during sex.

Although the cap can be reused for up to 2 years, it must be inserted before each sexual intercourse, similar to a condom or sponge. Having this preparation prior to sex can ruin the mood. However the Femcap can be inserted up to 6 hours before sex if you anticipate it happening early.

Another important note is that the cap must be used with spermicide. This is an added cost and can cause some irritation and other unwanted side effects. You should read about the benefits and disadvantages of spermicide before purchasing a cervical cap.

How Effective is the Cap?

The cervical cap is most effective for women who have never given birth. For those that use it correctly:

  • Among women who have never been pregnant or given birth, 14 out of 100 will become pregnant
  • Among women who have given birth, 29 out of 100 will become pregnant

These numbers are reduced if the FemCap is used with spermicide. In addition, the male can increase effectiveness by using a condom or pulling out.

The cervical cap does not protect against STD’s. You must use a male condom or female condom to prevent infections.

Is it Safe?

They are safe to use for most women, however certain conditions may put you at a higher risk.

This method might not be right for you if you are allergic to silicone or spermicide. In addition if you have:

  • Difficulty inserting the cap inside yourself
  • Physical problems with your uterus or vagina
  • Cuts in your vaginal or cervical tissue
  • Poor vaginal muscle tone
  • A reproductive tract infection
  • Given birth in the past 10 weeks
  • Cancer of the uterus, vagina or vulva
  • Recently had an abortion
  • Recnetly had suregery on your cervix
  • A history of toxic shock syndrome

How do I use a FemCap?

To put the cap in correctly, follow these instructions:

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water.
  2. Apply spermicide to the outside of the FemCap, on the top and around the upper rim.
  3. While in a comfortable position, locate your cervix with your fingers so you know where the cervical cap should be placed.
  4. With one hand, separate the labia, and squeeze the outer rim of the cap together.
  5. Insert the cap into the vagina, with the dome side facing the floor.
  6. Push down toward the anus and then tuck the cap against the cervix, ensuring it’s covering the cervix completely.
  7. Keep the cap in place for six hours after intercourse (but no longer than 48 hours).

When removing the cap, follow these instructions:

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water.
  2. Squat down low.
  3. Grip the removal strap and rotate the cap.
  4. Push on the dome to break the suction.
  5. Pull the cap out by hooking your finger under the removal strap.
  6. Wash the cap with warm water and a little soap.
  7. Air dry it (do not use powder or other materials for risk of infection).
  8. Inspect it for holes or weak spots and only reuse if it’s in perfect condition.

The process gets easier over time, so continue to practice until you feel comfortable with it.

Tips for using

Always use spermicide in tandem with a FemCap.

For best results, check to ensure the cap is completely covering the cervix before each instance of sexual intercourse.

Risk of pregnancy can be further decreased by using a condom or pulling out in addition to using the FemCap.

Check out other Birth Control Options and speak with your doctor before deciding on your birth control method.

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