With the GOP dead set on making birth control harder to access and a social stigma against condom use in young man, being sexually active and safe can be really difficult. But for women whose partners won’t compromise or don’t like either of the previously mentioned methods, there are still ways to have sex without getting pregnant. Important note: these methods only prevent pregnancy, not STIs, so they should only be used after partners have been tested!
The diaphragm is “fitted” to the individual by their health care provider. Because of this, any weight gain or loss (of about 5 pounds, but this should be discussed with your provider) will require a new diaphragm to be fitted. Spermicide should be placed on the cap and the rim and the diaphragm can be safely inserted up to 6 hours before intercourse, and should be left in for at least 8 hours after to give the spermicide enough time to kill all the stragglers. If sex occurs again before the 8 hour mark, simply apply more spermicide to the device. However, they should not be left in longer than 24 hours. Diaphragms are latex, and should NOT be used with oil-based lubricants (use water-based ones instead).
The Cervical Cap
The cervical cap is similar to the diaphragm (they differ by how they sit in the vagina) in that it must be fitted to the user by health care provider, and similar rules regarding weight loss and gain apply. Spermicide should also be placed along the rim and in the cap of the device. Again, the cervical cap can safely be inserted up to 6 hours before sex and should be left in for at least 8, but no more than 24 hours, afterward. The cervical cap is also made from latex, and should also NOT be used with oil-based lubricants.
The FemCap, unlike the diaphragm and the cervical cap, does not have to be fitted to the individual user. However, in the U.S. it is only available with a prescription. It also has a strap which allows for somewhat easier removal. The FemCap is made from silicone, and is therefore ideal for women who are allergic to latex. It can also be used with either water- or oil-based lubricants. Like it’s fellows, the FemCap should be used with spermicide placed along the rim and inside the cap. It can safely be inserted up to 8 hours before carnal acts, and should be left in for at least 8 hours. However, the FemCap can be left in up to 48 hours after intercourse.
Very similar to the FemCap, Lea’s Shield does not need to be fitted, but requires a prescription, is made from silicone, and has a removal hand strap. However, Lea’s Shield is unique in that it allows for a one-way flow: cervical fluids can be pass through it, but semen can not. Like the FemCap, it can be safely placed in the vagina up to 8 hours before intercourse, should be left in for at least 8 hours post-coitus, with spermicide re-application for a second (or third!) go, and should not be left in longer than 48 hours.
Again, these methods do not prevent the spread of STIs, but they are better than nothing! Have fun and always be safe!