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Birth Control > Cervical Cap
I am interested in finding out more about people's experience
with the cervical cap. I would also like to have a
recommendation for a practitioner who fits the cap, since my
OB/Gyn's office doesn't. I got fitted for a diaphragm only to
find that it was uncomfortable for my husband during sex. I am
interested in a non-hormonal method of contraception.
Tired of taking hormones
Cervical caps are great! I had one for years; no preganancies, no
urinary tract infections, no yeast infections--UNLIKE with the diphragm,
which I had used previously. I never had trouble with partners finding it
uncomfortable, either; however, your mileage may vary. They cost more
upfront, but will save you money in the long run, as they are much more
durable, and you use much less spermicidal jelly. They don't, of course,
protect you from HIV.
As far as practitioners who can fit you -- call Planned Parenthood or
another women's clinic, and ask them. They should be able to refer you.
I've used a cervical cap for years, with no problems whatsoever.
So naturally I think it's great! *SO* much nicer than a diaphragm
or condom or hormones. Neat, convenient, and not felt by either
On the down side, it is an imported device (from England) not
used/prescribed as much as other methods in this country, and the
sizes available are limited. So if you don't happen to get a good
fit with one of the available sizes, you're out of luck. There is
also some dispute over failure rates -- supposedly slightly
higher than that for diaphragms, I think -- though you couldn't
tell by me; it's always worked perfectly.
The U.S. distributor is right here in California (Los Gatos) and
they have a website: http://www.cervcap.com/index-consumer.html
with a zip-code provider locator:
Typing in the various Berkeley area zip-codes gives you the range
of people (doctors and certified nurse midwives) who can fit you
for the cap. Just typing in one zip-code won't give you all of
them; the database is very specific and doesn't have a ''within 10
miles'' option. Best of luck!
I have used the cervical cap on and off for over 10 years. It
is a great alternative to the diaphram.
The Nurse Practioner at the East Bay Fertility OB/GYN Medical
Group fitted me for one after I gave birth in 2000. My current
doctor, Janet Arnesty, at East Bay Family Practice, also fits
I used a cervical cap for almost 15 years and loved it. It was
relatively easy to use and I could keep it in for several days
(not sure what they are recommending now about this). I never
had any complaints from my partners about it being
uncomfortable for them. The only place I know to get them is
I used a cervical cap not long after they were first approved
back in the late 1980s. I was very disappointed. If the
diaphragm gets in the way for your husband, I think the cap will
be much worse. Unless they have changed the design a lot over
the last decade or unless I have a really weirdly positioned
cervix (either could certainly be true!), the cap sticks out
much further into your vagina than a diaphragm does. It sounds
like the cap is a cute little button-like thing and is more
compact than a diaphragm, but in fact, while it has a much
smaller diameter than a diaphragm does, it is much longer (mine
was about 2'' long, or -- think of a cylinder with a height of
2'' !). Also, I found that the cap actually pulled my cervix down
into my vagina so my cervix seemed quite huge and slightly
swollen when I'd take the thing out (scary, but apparently not
damaging). I went back to the diaphragm after trying the cap
for about 6 months. I won't take hormones, however, and about 4
years ago I got sick of using a diaphragm all the time for 15
years. I found a book called ''Taking Charge of your Fertility''
by Toni Weschler that explains how to use 3 physical ''signs'' to
judge your fertility. You take your temp each day (not as hard
as it sounds, and really interesting, too) and note
your ''fluids'' and cervix position. From these 3 things, you can
with confidence (over time after getting to know your body)
judge whether intercourse could result in a pregnancy. I found
I could judge this well after 2 months of taking my fertility
signs. I have now used this method both for NOT getting
pregnant (for more than 2 years) and for getting pregnant
relatively efficiently (since you know the day(s) you are most
fertile -- just before and right when you are ovulating; and, as
the book will tell you, for some women by the time an ovulation
indicator tells you you have ovulated, it is too late -- the egg
is gone). It is a lot of work (but worth it for me -- you
either abstain from intercourse when you're fertile or use a
diaphragm only during that time, which, for me, decreased by
about half or more the number of days per month I had to use
birth control), and is really only best for emotionally mature
people (probably those who use diaphragms anyway) in monogamous
relationships (since you aren't protected from STDs) and, by the
way, is not so great for new moms since you need to get about 5
hours of continuous sleep before you take your temp !). Also,
this book is a great way to learn about your body; it may even
make you angry that this knowledge is not a basic part of health
science in school as to how the female body works and gives
these very obvious fertility signs once you know them !
I tried to get a cap fitted a few months after my son was born
but my midwife was unable to find a size that sealed secruely.
Try a midwife for a fitting, especially one who is home or
natural birth friendly. THey are often trained in this.
Another way to avoid hormones is natural family planning. You
might take a look at Take Charge of Your Fertility by Toni
Wechsler. It helped me a ton with knowing when during my cycle I
am ovulating or soon to be O and we thus use a diphragm or
abstain during those days. My son is three now and no unplanned
pg so we must be doing something right!
Beware. I got pregnant using a cervical cap. My midwife (who
also fitted me for the cap) told me (after I got pregnant) that
the effectiveness of a cap is lower for women who have had
children-- something to do with the cervix having been stretched
out and having deeper ''wrinkles'' in it after childbirth. The cap
apparently doesn't seal off as well.
Jane Hysen (North Oakland Family Practice) fits cervical caps.
I used the cervical cap for a while. My husband found it
uncomfortable during sex--my cervix is low. It is hard to get
in at first, but after a while it becomes easy. I would never
discourage anyone from trying based on my experience, but they
don't fit everyone. Still, whomever you go to should be able to
tell you if you have an odd-shaped cervix.
The only people I know of that do cervical cap fittings are
midwives. You may want to check them first. You could try Maia
Midwifery or Five Senses Midwifery in Berkeley.
I'm another fan of the cap. I got one long ago; I was subject
#57 in the second study in the country (some time around
1980). I had one failure, but this was clearly ''user failure'' --
it was 2 months before I was planning to get pregnant and
after inserting the cap, I didn't check it (like I had -- according
to instructions -- every other time). Subconscious attempt to
get pregnant? Who knows?
Anyway, another great aspect of it (in addition to what the
others have said) was that when I wanted to get pregnant, I
had no problem doing so. I'd still be on the cap today if I
hadn't had my tubes tied!
this page was last updated: Dec 25, 2003
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