Cervical Cap

Quick Facts

Least effective

Does not protect from STDs

Doesn’t work as well if you have given birth

Hormone-free

You must leave it in for 6 hours after sex

A squeeze tube of spermicide cream next to a cervical cap

More About the Cervical Cap

The cervical cap is a silicon thimble-shaped cup that you put in the vagina to cover the cervix (the opening of your uterus). It blocks sperm from getting into the uterus. To increase efficacy of the cervical cap, it should be used with spermicide to kill sperm.

  • Once in, it works right away
  • You can put it in hours in advance – and no one needs to know
  • It can stay in place for up to 2 days and you can have sex again while it’s in – just add more spermicide
  • Hormone-free
  • The cervical cap comes in 3 sizes and you will need a prescription to get one. Your clinician will give you an exam and tell you which size is best for you.

How to Use the Cervical Cap

  • You need to be okay touching yourself since you will need to put it into the vagina
    – practice putting it in and taking it out before you use it
  • You can put it in several hours before sex – it doesn’t need to interrupt the heat of the moment
  • You need to have it with you
  • You must leave it in place for at least 6 hours after the last time you have sex – it can stay in up to 48 hours
  • After taking it out, wash it with soap and water and let it dry
  • Check it for small holes or tears before and after you use it
Put spermicide in both sides of the cervical cap and spread some around the rim. Find your cervix with your fingers. Use your fingers to place the cap in your vagina, totally covering your cervix

Put spermicide in both sides of the cervical cap and spread some around the rim. Find your cervix with your fingers. Use your fingers to place the cap in your vagina, totally covering your cervix.

Orange donut chart showing 71%. The title says "71% effective if you have given birth before"
Orange donut chart showing 86%. The title says "86% effective if you have never given birth"

Effectiveness

  • 71% effective for people who have given birth. This means that 29 out of 100 women who use this method will get pregnant in a year if they have given birth.
  • 86% effective for people who have never given birth. This means that 14 out of 100 women who use this method all the time will get pregnant in a year if they have never given birth.
  • You can improve effectiveness by using it with another method, such as condoms or withdrawal
  • Reusable but must be replaced once a year (with proper care).

Benefits

  • Can be put in hours in advance – doesn’t need to interrupt the heat of the moment
  • You can have sex as many times (for 2 days) as you’d like while it’s in – just add more spermicide!
  • You and your partner shouldn’t be able to feel it
  • Hormone-free
  • Can be used while breastfeeding
  • It may be used by those with high blood pressure and diabetes
Nine hands each holding a thumbs up
A young woman holds up her hands as if weighing options and looks thoughtful

Side Effects and Limitations

  • Can’t use if allergic to silicone or spermicide
  • For some women, it might be hard to put in and take out
  • Spermicide may irritate the vagina or lead to urinary tract infections
  • Cannot use if on your period
  • You must have it with you and be able to put it in!
  • You have to use it every time you have sex
  • Does not protect against HIV or other STDs

Family PACT Coverage

If you are eligible, Family PACT covers the cost of cervical caps. A provider can help you decide if a cervical cap is the best option for you. You can search for a Family PACT provider near you by clicking on the “Provider Search” button in the right hand corner of this page.

California Department of Health Care Services Family PACT logo