Cervical Caps: Side Effects, Risks, and Effectiveness
The cervical cap is not a method of birth control that is widely used, and very few health care providers recommend this type of contraception. If you are interested in the cervical cap, be sure to check with your health care provider to see if this method is available.
What is a cervical cap?
A soft rubber barrier that covers the cervix in order to prevent sperm from entering into the uterus. It works by blocking most sperm from entering the uterus. Spermicide is added to the cap to kill any sperm that may get outside of the protection of the cap.
How effective is it?
Typical use results in a failure rate of approximately 20%. This means that 20 people out of every 100 will become pregnant during the first year of use. You should take a pregnancy test if you are experiencing any pregnancy symptoms.
What are the side effects or health risks?
The most common side effect of using a cervical cap is vaginal irritation. Some women also experience an increase in the number of bladder infections they have.
The cervical cap should not be used by women who have:
- An abnormally shaped cervix
- A history of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
- Abnormal pap smears
- Severe cervicitis
Is it reversible?
Yes. A cap does not have any effects on either the male’s or the female’s reproductive function. It is possible to get pregnant immediately when the caps are no longer used.
How much does a cervical cap cost?
Office visits to obtain a prescription for a cervical cap range from $50 to $200, the cap costs between $15 and $50 dollars and spermicidal jellies, foams, or creams range from $7 to $18 dollars per package. The cervical cap can last up to two years.
What about sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?
The cervical cap does NOT provide protection against the transmission of sexually transmitted infections.
What are the pros & cons of cervical caps?
- The Pros:
- Reusable and relatively inexpensive
- Small and easy to carry
- Requires less spermicide than a diaphragm
- Rarely hinders the sexual experience
- May be used for repeated intercourse within a 48 hour period
- The Cons:
- Requires consistent use for each sexual encounter
- Spermicide may be messy
- A prescription is required
- May contribute towards urinary tract infections
- May cause cervical changes, such as cervicitis
- Must be cleaned and stored
- May need to be resized following a pregnancy, abortion, pelvic surgery, or weight loss or gain (20lbs or more)
- May get stuck in the cervix, requiring it to be removed by your healthcare provider
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