Go to Content Go to Navigation Go to Navigation Go to Site Search Homepage

Diaphragms and spermicide can have some side effects, but they’re totally safe for most people.

Is the diaphragm safe for me?

The diaphragm is totally safe for most people. But the diaphragm may not work for you if:

  • you're not comfortable putting your fingers in your vagina

  • you're sensitive or allergic to silicone or spermicide

  • you gave birth in the last 6 weeks

  • you have trouble putting in the diaphragm

  • you've had toxic shock syndrome

  • you or your partner have HIV/AIDS

  • you've had an abortion in your second or third trimester of pregnancy within the last six weeks

Your nurse or doctor can help you decide if the diaphragm is safe for you.

What are the risks of using a diaphragm?

Diaphragms are supposed to be used with spermicide for the best protection from pregnancy. For most people, using spermicide is totally safe. However, the chemical in most spermicides, nonoxynol-9, has some risks. If you use it many times a day, it can irritate your vagina and increase your risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. If you’re worried about the spread of STDs, use condoms along with your diaphragm and spermicide to protect yourself and your partners.

Some people who use diaphragms get urinary tract infections (UTIs) a lot. If this happens to you, check with your nurse or doctor — you may need a different size.

If you notice that your vagina feels sore or irritated after you use your diaphragm with spermicide, you may be sensitive to the spermicide or the material that the diaphragm is made of. You can try a different brand of spermicide and see if that makes a difference. If the irritation feels really bad or if switching brands doesn't help, talk to your doctor.

You should also talk to a nurse or doctor if:

  • it burns when you urinate (pee)

  • the diaphragm feels uncomfortable

  • you have spotting or bleeding that's different from your normal period

  • your vulva or vagina is sore, itchy, or red

  • you have discharge from your vagina that's different from your normal discharge

These things may mean that you have an infection or something else is wrong. Most problems are easy to treat, so don’t stress out — just talk to your doctor as soon as you can.

You should also watch out for signs of toxic shock syndrome. It’s very rare, but take your diaphragm out and call your doctor right away if you notice:

  • a sudden high fever

  • a rash that looks and feels like a sunburn

  • diarrhea or vomiting

  • a sore throat, aching muscles and joints

  • dizziness, faintness, and weakness
Was this page helpful?
You’re the best! Thanks for your feedback.
Thanks for your feedback.

Need Help? Chat Now.

Chat online to get answers about pregnancy, birth control, emergency contraception, STDs, and abortion. 

Chat Now


  • 83% effective

  • Costs up to $75, but can be $0

  • Prescription required

  • Put it in before sex

A diaphragm won’t protect you from STDs. Use a condom with your diaphragm to help stop pregnancy and STDs.
See All Methods