Cervical Cap

A cervical cap is a silicone cup you insert in your vagina. It covers your cervix and keeps sperm out of your uterus. You need to use a cervical cap with spermicide for it to be most effective.

Quick facts:

  • Immediately effective. It has no hormones and can be inserted up to 6 hours before sex.
  • Effectiveness: the cervical cap is fairly effective but it worksbest with spermicide.
    • Perfect use: n/a
    • Typical use:

      71 – 86%

  • Side effects: usually no side effects. Some women might experience irritation or discomfort
  • Effort: high. It needs to be in place every time you have sex.

Cervical Cap

Quick facts:

A cervical cap is a silicone cup you insert in your vagina. It covers your cervix and keeps sperm out of your uterus. You need to use a cervical cap with spermicide for it to be most effective.

  • Immediately effective. It has no hormones and can be inserted up to 6 hours before sex.
  • Effectiveness: the cervical cap is fairly effective but it worksbest with spermicide.
    • Perfect use: n/a
    • Typical use:

      71 – 86%

  • Side effects: usually no side effects. Some women might experience irritation or discomfort
  • Effort: high. It needs to be in place every time you have sex.

You have not had a baby yet. Cervical caps are more effective if you have not given birth.

You would not mind getting pregnant. The failure rate for “typical use” of the cervical cap can range from 14-29%. Try another method if an accidental pregnancy is not acceptable for you right now.

Comfortable with your body. If you are not comfortable putting your fingers inside yourself, then consider a different method.

It takes discipline. You need to remember to insert your cervical cap every time you have sex. It takes a bit of self-discipline and planning. You can carry it with you if you want, which may make it easier to remember.

You do not have sex often. Inserting a cervical cap can take some time. It is not a great option if you have sex regularly.If you have sex only once or twice a week then it may be a good option. You can put it in and leave it in for up to 48 hours.

Allergy issues. If you are allergic to silicone or spermicide, you should not use a cervical cap.

The pregnancy question. You will be able to get pregnant as soon as you stop using the cervical cap. So protect yourself with another method right away if you are not ready to get pregnant.

You can put in the cervical cap hours before sex, and should be in before you are turned on. You need to leave it in for 6 hours after you have sex. If you are going to have sex again that day, leave the cervical cap in place and insert more spermicide. Do not leave your cap in for more than 48 hours.

 How to put it in:

Inserting a cervical cap sounds more difficult than it is. It gets easier with practice.

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water. Let them air dry.
  2. Check your cervical cap for holes and weak spots. Filling it with clean water is a good way to check – if it leaks, there is a hole.
  3. Put a 1-2 mL or so of spermicide in the dome of the cup.Spread some around the rim too.
  4. Flip it over to the side with the removal strap and put another 2-3 mL in the indentation between the brim and the dome.
  5. Sit or stand, but spread your legs.
  6. Put your index and middle fingers into your vagina. Feel for your cervix, so you know where to place the cap.
  7. Separate the outer lips of your vagina with one hand. Use the other hand to squeeze the rim of the cap together.
  8. Slide the cap in the dome side down, with the long brim first.
  9. Push down toward your anus, then up and onto your cervix. Make sure your cervix is totally covered.

How to take it out:

You need to remove it 6 hours after you have sex. Here is how:

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water. Let them air dry.
  2. Squat down. Put a finger inside your vagina. Get a hold of the removal strap, and rotate the cap.
  3. Push on the dome a bit with your finger to break the suction.
  4. Hook your finger under the strap and pull the cap out.

Still having trouble? You might want to consider switching to another method.

Take good care of your cap and it will last up to two years.

  • After you take it out, wash it with mild soap and warm water.
  • Let it air dry.
  • Do not use powders on your cap – they could cause infection.
  • And do not worry if it becomes discolored. It will still work.

Tips and Tricks: if you are going to have sex more than once in a day, check the placement of the cap and use more spermicide.

Everyone is different. What you experience may not be the same thing as another woman.

The Positive:

  • You can insertyour cervical cap hours ahead of time.
  • You can have sex as many times as you like while it is in, as long as you keep adding spermicide.
  • Neither you nor your partner should be able to feel it
  • Does not affect your hormones
  • No prescription necessary
  • You can use it while breastfeeding

The Negative:

  • Some women have a hard time inserting it
  • Can cause vaginal irritation
  • Some women may get frequent urinary tract infections
  • You have to use it every time you have sex, no matter what
  • You should not use the cervical cap if you are allergic to spermicide or silicone.
  • It can get pushed out of place by large penises, heavy thrusting, or certain sexual positions
  • Hard to remember to use if you are drunk

We are here to help you. If it still does not feel right, we have ideas for other methods. Just remember: If you change methods, make sure you use another method while you switch.

Why is the cervical cap causing irritation?

  • The irritation could be from an allergy to spermicide.
  • Try this: if the irritation is not too bad, you might want to try another brand of spermicide.
  • Still not working? If you have tried different types of spermicides and are still having irritation, try a method that does not 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 a different method: implant; IUD; condom; patch; pill; ring; shot

Why is there a bad smell with the cervical cap?

  • This can happen if you leave it in for more than 48 hours.
  • Try this: rinse it thoroughly and let it air dry. If the odor sticks around, you should talk to your provider about a condition called bacterial vaginosis.

What if I scratch the surface of my cervix?

  • Scratching your cervix sounds bad. It should not happen very often, and is less likely to happen when you have had practice.
  • Still not working? If you want to try another barrier method, try one that you do not have to insert, like male condoms. Or try a method you do not have to remember every day or every time you have sex, like the IUD, implant, shot, ring, or patch
  • Try a different method: internal condom; implant; IUD; condom; patch; ring; shot

What if the cervical cap is not easy to insert or remove?

  • If you are still new to using the cervical cap, look at our “how to” section.
  • Practice inserting and removing it when you are not about to have sex. Practice will make it easier to use.
  • Still not working? If you still find it hard to use, try a new method or talk with your provider. If you really want to use a barrier method, try one that you do not have to insert, like male condoms. Or try a method you do not have to remember every day or every time you have sex, like the IUD, implant, ring, or patch
  • Try a different method: female condom; implant; IUD; condom; patch; ring