Healthy living


Diaphragms are made of silicone or soft rubber. The diaphragm is placed inside the vagina to cover a woman’s cervix, and stops the man’s sperm from getting through. They come in different sizes. To make sure you have the correct size, it must be fitted by a doctor or nurse, and you need to be taught how to use it. Diaphragms are quite effective if fitted properly and used every time you have sex.


  • You can insert it at a convenient time before you have sex, but you must leave it in for at least 6 hours afterwards.
  • When you know what size you need, you can buy one over the counter at a pharmacy or health service.
  • It is usually easy to put in once you’ve been taught and have practised.
  • You only have to use a diaphragm when you have sex – it doesn’t affect your body at other times.

Things to consider

  • A woman needs to be comfortable with touching her body to use a diaphragm.
  • You have to keep your diaphragms clean and dry when not in use, and regularly check that the rubber has not broken down – they normally need replacing every 2 years.
  • Do not use oil-based lubricants as these can cause the rubber to break down.
  • You need to re-check the size after pregnancy, a vaginal operation, a major weight change (gaining or losing over 5kg), or if you feel the fit has changed and the diaphragm feels loose or uncomfortable.

Where to get help

Sexual Health and Blood-borne Virus Program, Public Health

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

See also

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