Cervical Cap

Archived Responses: 

Jan 2003

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. Ann

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 partner. 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: http://www.cervcap.com/locate-consumer.cfm

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 them. Lisa
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 Planned Parenthood. anon
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 ! anon
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! anon

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. NH
Jane Hysen (North Oakland Family Practice) fits cervical caps. anonne
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. anon

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! anonymous