Immediately effective, no hormones, can be inserted up to 6 hours before sex.
Cervical caps are shallow, dome-shaped cups made of silicone. They’re off-white and about an inch and a half in diameter. You insert it into your vagina before sex and it covers your cervix to keeps sperm out of your uterus. There’s only one brand of cervical cap available in the U.S. today, and it’s called the FemCap. One super important thing to remember: You need to use a cervical cap with spermicide for it to be most effective.
Comfortable with your body
If you’re not okay with putting your fingers inside yourself, a cervical cap probably isn’t for you. It’s a bit like putting in a tampon, though: If you can do that, you can probably manage the cap.
It takes discipline
You’ve got to remember to insert your cervical cap each and every time you have sex, so it takes a bit of self-discipline and planning. But at least you can carry it with you in your purse if you want.
You haven’t had a baby yet
Cervical caps are more effective for women who haven’t given birth.
If you’re allergic to silicone or spermicide, you shouldn’t use a cervical cap.
You don’t have sex often
Inserting a cervical cap can take a while, so it’s not exactly ideal if you’re doing it all the time. That said, if you’re an “only on the weekends” kind of girl, you can put the cap in once and leave it in place for up to 48 hours.
Not while you’re bleeding
Don’t use a cervical cap while you’re having your period.
The pregnancy question
You’ll be able to get pregnant as soon as you stop using the cervical cap. So protect yourself with another method right away if you’re not ready to get pregnant.
Don’t take our word for it. Check out the videos above to hear a woman and a man talk about their experiences with the cervical cap.
Manufacturers recommend that you replace
your cervical cap once a year. That means you’ll have to pay for this method annually (plus the cost of spermicide).
- With Medicaid: Usually free
- With insurance: $0. Great news. Preventive health services like birth control are covered for no additional charge now.
- Without insurance: $0-$75 for the fitting/exam + $0-$55 for the cap (Planned Parenthood)
- Payment assistance: Check with your local family planning clinics and find out if they offer free or low cost birth control (most do)
To see how this translates over a year, here’s what it would cost to pay for a cervical cap month-to-month at full price:
- Cost per month over one year: $5-$6.25
* FYI: This info is based on recent survey of Planned Parenthood clinics and birth control manufacturers. Your cost may vary. Some clinics accept private insurance; some don’t. If you don’t have private insurance, be sure to ask your doctor or clinic about Title X, Medicaid waivers, or other programs that could reduce the cost of your birth control.
A cervical cap can be inserted hours before sex
and should be in before you’re turned on, so it won’t get in the way of the moment. But you have to be sure to leave it in for six hours after you have sex. If you’re going to have sex again that day, leave the cervical cap in place and insert more spermicide way up in your vagina (Gynol II comes with an applicator that makes this easier, but any kind of contraceptive gel or spermicide will do except for the film or insert/suppository types). And don’t leave your cap in for more than 48 hours.
How to put it in
Inserting a cervical cap may sound difficult, but with a bit of practice, it’s not that tough.
Here’s the deal:
- Wash your hands with soap and water.
- Check your cervical cap for holes and weak spots. Filling it with water is a good way to check—if it leaks, you’ve got a hole.
- Put a quarter teaspoon or so of spermicide in the dome of the cup, and spread some around the rim, too.
- Flip it over to the side with the removal strap and put another half teaspoon in the indentation between the brim and the dome.
- Get comfy, like you’re going to put in a tampon.
- Put your index and middle fingers into your vagina and feel for your cervix, so you’ll know where to place the cap.
- Separate the outer lips of your vagina with one hand, and use the other hand to squeeze the rim of the cap together.
- Slide the cap in dome side down, with the long brim first.
- Push down toward your anus, then up and onto your cervix. Make sure your cervix is totally covered.
How to take it out
Of course, what goes in must come out (at least 6 hours after you’ve had sex). Here’s how:
- Wash your hands again.
- Squat down. Put a finger inside your vagina, get a hold of the removal strap, and rotate the cap.
- Push on the dome a bit with your finger to break the suction.
- Hook your finger under the strap and pull the cap out.
Still having trouble? You might want to consider switching to another method.
Finally, take good care of your cap and it’ll last up to two years.
- After you take it out, wash it with mild soap and warm water.
- Let it air dry.
- Don’t use powders on your cap—they could cause infection.
- And don’t worry if it becomes discolored. It’ll still work.
There are positive and negative things to say
about each and every method. And everyone’s different—so what you experience may not be the same as what your friend experiences.
- You can put a cervical cap in hours in advance
- You can have sex as many times as you like while it’s in
- Neither you nor your partner should be able to feel it
- Doesn’t affect your hormones
- No prescription necessary
- Can be used while breastfeeding
- Some women have a hard time inserting it
- Can cause vaginal irritation
- Some women wind up getting frequent urinary tract infections
- You have to use it every time you have sex, no matter what
- If you’re allergic to spermicide or silicone, you shouldn’t use a cervical cap
- Can get pushed out of place by large penises, heavy thrusting, or certain sexual positions
We’re here to get this method working better for you.
And if it still doesn’t feel right, we’ve got ideas for other methods. Just remember: If you change methods, make sure you’re protected while you switch.
The cervical cap is causing irritation.
The irritation could actually be from an allergy to spermicide.
Still not working?
If you’ve tried different types of spermicides and are still having irritation, think about trying a method that doesn’t require any, like the IUD,shot, patch, pill, ring, or implant. If you want to stick with a barrier method, you could try non-spermicidal male condoms.
Try this: If the irritation isn’t too bad, you might want to try another brand of spermicide.
I’ve noticed a nasty smell with the cervical cap.
This can happen if you’ve left it in more than 48 hours.
Try this: Rinse it thoroughly and let it dry. If the odor sticks around, you may want to get checked for a condition called bacterial vaginosis (a condition that can cause that bad-smelling discharge).
I scratched the surface of my cervix. Ouch.
That sounds horrible, but luckily, shouldn’t happen very often.
Still not working?
If you want to try something else and really want to stick with a barrier method, check out one that you don’t have to insert, like male condoms or female condoms. Or check out a method you can “forget about” for a while, like the IUD, implant, shot, ring, or patch.
I can’t get the cervical cap in (or out) easily.
If you’re new to the cervical cap, check out our “how to.” Practice a little more and do so when it’s not the heat of the moment. Hopefully you’ll soon find it easy to use.
Still not working?
If you still find it hard to use after a bit of practice, you might want consult your healthcare provider or try a new method. If you really want to stick with a barrier method, check out one that you don’t have to insert, like male condoms or female condoms. Or check out a method you can “forget about” for a while, like the IUD, implant, ring or patch.
Real Stories (English)
Matt’s girlfriend tried an IUD and the pill, but her body had a hard time adjusting to them and they diminished her sex drive. That’s when she asked about non-hormonal methods and her doctor recommended the cervical cap. For Matt, it feels a lot like using nothing at all and creates a sense of closeness that he did not experience using condoms. And it can be inserted before going out for the night, so the cervical cap is good if you don’t mind planning ahead now for a bit of spontaneity later. At first, there were a few times when Matt felt the cap, bumping it loose from her cervix. But that only required a quick adjustment and they were good to go at it again. Now that it’s their method of frequent use, he has learned what his range is down there and it’s smooth sailing.
A former pill and IUD user, Lisa had to travel great lengths to find a cervical cap. She had some frustrating moments early on, figuring out how to get it in. And then how to get it out. But now it’s quick and easy. Lisa also loves that she doesn’t have to insert the cap in the heat of the moment. She can put it in while getting dressed for a date and be good to go whenever the action begins.