What is a cervical cap?
The purpose of this article is to explain the purpose, history, and challenges of cervical caps.
A cervical cap dome-shaped silicon device that is inserted directly over the cervix to block sperm from entering the uterus, thereby preventing pregnancy; a cervical cap is a contraceptive device.
The concept of a cervical cap inserted vaginally to prevent pregnancy went through many variations over its long history. In ancient times women used natural local resources, e.g half a scooped out pomegranate or lemon, to cover the cervix and attempt to block sperm. In the late 19th and early 20th century, the more modern medically designed cervical cap came into being.
Several brands of caps were manufactured during the late 20th and early 21st centuries. There were two main variations within the early designs of cervical caps. Cavity Rim caps were a simple a dome that covered, or caped, the cervix. More modern cervical caps progressed to include a brim around the dome that adhered to the vaginal walls and offered better protection.
Now defunct brands of cervical caps include the Prentif, made of latex, and the disposable Oves cap, made of silicone. The other devices are the latex Dumas and Vimule, and the silicone Lea's Shield, and Shanghai Li.
Today, the only mass marketed cervical cap is the FemCap. It features both a dome and a brim, with the addition of a ring to help with removal.
The BeaCap, which will soon to be launched in Europe, has a similar design to the FemCap but does not feature a removal ring. The manufactures of BeaCap decided to eliminate the removal ring from their design after hearing complaints from FemCap users that the ring made intercourse uncomfortable. The BeaCap is also said to be made of softer, more flexible silicone and comes in a number of female-friendly colors.
Still, as of now, the FemCap is the only cervical cap approved by the FDA for use as a contraceptive device. FemCap has the essential design of a dome that suctions to the cervix and the brim of the cap adheres to the walls of the vaginal canal. It is an effective, comfortable, and easy to use.
The current FemCap is comprised of an elevated dome center, a brim around the entire dome, and a small ring to assist with removal. FemCap must be used with spermicide gel or contraceptive gel. It is made from 100% medical grade silicone and comes in three sizes.
Finding the correct size cervical cap:
It is recommended but not essential that individuals who wish to use a cervical cap are assessed by a health care provider before choosing to use a cervical cap. A woman with vaginal scar tissue, vaginal prolapse, or a differently shaped uterus may not be able to use a cervical cap correctly. In addition, while the FemCap comes in three easy to assess sizes, a healthcare provider will be able to ensure you have chosen the correct size.
How a cervical cap is used:
A woman inserts a cervical cap vaginally and placed it over her cervix prior to sexual activity. Spermicide or contraceptive gel (ContraGel) should be applied to the inside of the dome and the brim of the cap. The cap is then placed directly over the tip of the cervix, and the rim of the cap should be such tuck behind the fornix snugly and evenly so as to maintain good suction and hold it in place.
The FemCap cervical cap can be inserted anywhere from 15 minutes to 40 hours before to intercourse. This allows for maximum sexual spontaneity.
A cervical cap must not be removed for at least six hours after intercourse. This gives all sperm the time to die before the cap is removed. If a cervical cap is removed before sperm dies, remaining sperm could enter the uterus and result in pregnancy.
The generally accepted contraceptive reliability rates attache two different effectiveness rates to all methods of birth control. One percentage is given for perfect use effectiveness, an another for actual use effectiveness. The perfect use effectiveness represents the percent of couples who do not become pregnant when they consistently and correctly use the given method. Actual effectiveness is the proportion of couples use the method with good intention, yet sometimes use the method incorrectly, including couples to forget to use the given method. In the case of cervical caps, this would include incorrect placement of the cap, not using spermicide gel or ContraGel, removing the cap too early, or forgetting to put it in altogether.
The cervical cap is 80.4% effective in actual use according to the Pearl Index and 89% of the women are satisfied with using the cap. However, according to the manufacturer of FemCap effectiveness rates may be as high as 92% to 98%.
Spermicide, an essential component to effective use of a cervical cap, has been known to cause rash or irritation. ContraGel contraceptive gel is the natural alternative that to spermicide gel and is a better replacement for those who want to avoid potential allergy issues.
Those who are allergic to silicone should not use a FemCap.
The presence of a cervical cap has been reported to cause vaginal irritation in some women. Frequent urinary tract infections can also be a result of the cap pressing on the urethra.
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