Cervical Cap

Closely related to the diaphragm is the cervical cap, which is smaller and made from rubber or hypoallergenic silicone, covering the cervix only and held by suction. The cervical cap helps to prevent pregnancy by acting as a barrier, stopping the sperm and ovum from meeting. There are three types of cervical caps, which are the vault cap suitable for women with short cervices; the cervical cap suitable for a woman with a long parallel-sided cervix; and the vimule cap which is a combination of a vault and cervical cap which adheres to the vaginal wall.

The cap is fitted in a similar way to the diaphragm. A woman wanting to use the cap would need to first have a vaginal examination and then be taught how to use it for the first times by a health professional. Routine visits and examination by a professional are indicated every 6 months. The cap could be left inside the vagina for a minimum of 6 hours after sexual intercourse but not more than 48 hours to avoid the risk of toxic shock syndrome and pressure ulcers forming. The application of spermicidal cream or gel is indicated with the use of the cervical cap. This will give contraception protection for 3 hours. After 3 hours if no sexual intercourse has taken place more spermicidal will need to be inserted, such as in vaginal pessary form.

With careful and consistent use the cervical cap is 80% effective in women who have had given birth in the past and 91% in women who had never given birth, when used with a spermicide, in preventing pregnancy in the first year of use. With typical use where a woman does not use this method carefully, the efficacy is 68% effective in women who have had given birth in the past and 84% in women who had never given birth when used with a spermicide in preventing pregnancy in the first year.  





  • Requires motivation
  • Needs to be used carefully and consistently for optimum efficacy
  • Needs to be used with a spermicide which may be perceived as messy
  • May be harder to insert and remove than a diaphragm
  • No protection again HIV



  • Under the control of the woman
  • May give some protection against cervical cancer and some Sexually Acquired Infections
  • No systemic side effects
  • Provides vaginal lubrication
  • Can be used during menstruation
  • Gives a woman permission to touch and explore her body
  • No increase in urinary symptoms and cystitis


  • Inability of the client to locate her cervix
  • Unsuitable cervix e.g. shape, position
  • Pregnancy
  • Undiagnosed genital tract bleeding which must be investigated and treated first
  • Abnormalities of the vagina or the cervix existing since birth (congenital)
  • Allergy to rubber or spermicide
  • Present vaginal, cervical or pelvic infections which must be investigated and treated first
  • Past history of toxic shock syndrome
  • Women who feel unable to touch their genital area because of personal or religious reasons