There’s A New Diaphragm In Town. Is This A Good Thing?

by Melissa Kirsch
Originally Published: 

You remember the diaphragm. Maybe you didn’t use one yourself, but you saw photos of the little rubber bowl that fits over your cervix in health textbooks, right next to other outdated contraceptives like the Dalkon Shield IUD and cervical cap. I always thought of the diaphragm as something from another generation, a relic from the maxi-pad-belt past that was inconvenient to insert, required spermicide to be effective, and didn’t protect against STDs.

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So I was as surprised as you were to discover there’s a new and improved diaphragm hitting the market. It’s called Caya, and it’s the first new diaphragm design to be offered in the U.S. in half a century. Unlike diaphragms of yore, this one’s one-size-fits-all, but you still need a prescription to get it from the doctor. I asked a sampling of women in their 30s and 40s what they think about this retro birth control coming back on the scene, and here’s what they told me.

Some were excited…

“I’m dying to go to Canada and get one right now. It sounds like a major upgrade from the horror show of a diaphragm that I had in the early ’90s.”

…but had reservations, too:

“My questions are: Why is it not available OTC? And what’s in the spermicide that they insist you use with it? It seems sketchy that you must use their brand.”

Others could only sing the praises of the ‘phragm compared to hormonal birth control:

“I used [a diaphragm] for a while and it came highly recommended by a lot of people. I don’t think it’s retro. It’s a far better option than the pill or condoms in my opinion. I never tried an IUD but all the horror stories about depression and all the rest made me steer clear of them.”

There were skeptics…

“Given the outcry over the menstrual cup I’m guessing this is going nowhere. God forbid you actually have to touch yourself!”

…with very real concerns:

“Not to mention efficacy. Real world effectiveness is only 84%!”

VERY real:

“I am here because of a diaphragm.”

The awkwardness factor is a major drawback to many:

“Applying spermicide to the rim, as the instructions demand, makes the insertion process physically impossible because then you’re trying to insert this thing that is already very hard to insert and is now slippery…that’s a recipe for the diaphragm flying across the bathroom.”

Some said you could feel it during sex:

“One guy said he felt it and found it objectionable. That guy was maybe the biggest asshole I’ve ever slept with tho so grain of salt. Current guy, when asked if he could feel it, replied ‘it feels amazing,’ which was more of an overall comment I think.”

But the real reason most moms might object to a diaphragm, newfangled or no?

“As a mom, your window of time [for sex] is so limited you don’t want to waste that two minutes.”

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