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The cervical cap is a small, thimble-shaped cup made of silicone that is inserted into the vagina to prevent pregnancy. Placed over the cervix, the cap prevents sperm from entering the uterus by covering the uterus. For additional preventative measure, spermicide is often added into the cup before its insertion. The cap can be placed in up to 6 hours before having sex and must be left in for at least six hours, but cannot be worn for more than 48 hours. The cervical cap can be washed with mild soap after use.
Using the cervical cap in conjunction with spermicidal cream, foam, or jelly can increase contraceptive effectiveness, as these products will immobilize the sperm. Used in combination with spermicide, the cervical cap is 86% effective. These statistics apply to women who have not had a vaginal birth, as the stretching that occurs during this process means the cap will not fit as snugly. In mothers who have delivered vaginally, the cap’s effectiveness drops to 71%. Unlike condoms, cervical caps do not prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Cervical caps may appeal to women who prefer not to use hormonal forms of birth control. However, some women do not like inserting these devices. Although there are very few side effects associated with the cap, some women may experience vaginal irritation, pain or discomfort, vaginal or urinary tract infections, or allergies to the spermicide used alongside these devices.
A cervical cap will last for one to two years, provided it does not develop any holes. The cervical cap is only available via prescription. It must be fitted by a doctor or healthcare provider, who will demonstrate how to insert and remove it. The only cervical cap available in the United States is the FemCap. The cap is often not recommended to young women since it is often difficult to insert. It is also possible to knock the cap out of position during intercourse.
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