Cervical Cap

Cervical Cap

An image of a cervical cap

A cervical cap is a silicone cup inserted into the vagina to cover the cervix and keep sperm out of the uterus. There's only one brand of cervical cap available in the US today, and it's jauntily named the FemCap. One super important thing to remember: the cervical cap must be used with spermicide for it to be most effective.


    You haven't had a baby yet

    Cervical caps are more effective if for those who haven't given birth.

    You wouldn't mind getting pregnant

    The "typical use" failure rate for the cervical cap can range from 14-29%, which is pretty high. So if getting pregnant would be disastrous, think about another method.

    Comfortable with your body

    If a person feels uncomfortable with putting their fingers inside themselves, a cervical cap probably isn't the right option. It's a bit like putting in a tampon, though.

    It takes discipline

    The cervical cap must be inserted each and every time a person has sex, so it takes a bit of self-discipline and planning

    You don't have sex often

    Inserting a cervical cap can take a while, so it's not exactly ideal for people having frequent sex. However, the cap can be put in once and left it in place for up to 48 hours.

    Allergy issues

    For those who are allergic to silicone or spermicide, the cervical cap is likely not the best method to use..

    The pregnancy question

    A person's return to fertility will occur immediately after the cap is removed, which is great for those looking to conceive. But for those who aren't ready or interested in getting pregnant, an alternative method may be a better choice.

    Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, for those with health insurance, chances are good that this method is available without out-of-pocket costs. Note that the cost of spermicide probably won't be covered though. Manufacturers recommend that you replace your cervical cap once a year, so those without insurance, will have to pay for this method annually.


    • This method may be free or low-cost.
    • With Medicaid: free.
    • With insurance: depending on a person's income, they may be able to go to a low-cost clinic to get the cervical cap at reduced cost.
    • Without insurance: according to Planned Parenthood, a cervical cap can cost anywhere from $0 to about $275, which includes the cost of an exam, plus the cost of your cervical cap.

    To see how this translates over a year, here’s what it would cost to pay for a cervical cap month-to-month at full price:

    • Cost per month over one year: $0 - $24.

    • Payment assistance: Check with a local family planning clinics and find out if they offer free or low cost birth control (most do).

    A cervical cap can be inserted hours before sex. But it must be left in for six hours after sex. For anyone planning to have sex again that day, leave the cervical cap in place and insert more spermicide way up in the vagina. Gynol II comes with an applicator that makes this easier, but any kind of contraceptive gel or spermicide will do except for the film or insert/suppository types. The can't be left in for more than 48 hours.

    How to put it in

    1. Wash your hands with soap and water.
    2. Check your cervical cap for holes and weak spots. Filling it with water is a good way to check—if it leaks, you've got a hole.
    3. Put a quarter teaspoon or so of spermicide in the dome of the cup, and spread some around the rim, too.
    4. Flip it over to the side with the removal strap and put another half teaspoon in the indentation between the brim and the dome.
    5. Put your index and middle fingers into your vagina and feel for your cervix, so you'll know where to place the cap.
    6. Separate the outer lips of your vagina with one hand, and use the other hand to squeeze the rim of the cap together.
    7. Slide the cap in dome side down, with the long brim first.
    8. Push down toward your anus, then up and onto your cervix. Make sure your cervix is totally covered.

    How to take it out

    1. Wash your hands again.
    2. Squat down. Put a finger inside your vagina, get a hold of the removal strap, and rotate the cap.
    3. Push on the dome a bit with your finger to break the suction.
    4. Hook your finger under the strap and pull the cap out.

    Finally, take good care of your cap and it'll last up to two years.

    • After you take it out, wash it with mild soap and warm water.
    • Let it air dry.
    • Don't use powders on your cap—they could cause infection.
    • And don't worry if it becomes discolored. It'll still work.

    Every method has its own positives and negatives, and because everyone's birth control is different what one person experiences may not be the same as another's experiences.

    The Positive

    • A cervical cap can be put in in hours in advance.
    • People can have sex as many times as they like while it's in.
    • Once put in no one should be able to feel it.
    • Doesn't affect a person's hormones.
    • No prescription necessary.
    • Can be used while breastfeeding.

    The Negative

    • Some people have a hard time inserting it.
    • Can cause vaginal irritation.
    • Some folks wind up getting frequent urinary tract infections.
    • It must be used every time you have sex, no matter what.
    • If a person is allergic to spermicide or silicone, a cervical cap likely isn't the right option. 
    • Can get pushed out of place by large penises, heavy thrusting, or certain sexual positions.
    Do you have questions about Cervical Cap? Visit Bedsider.org for answers to many of the most popular questions about this method of birth control.