Talking to your kids about sex can be daunting, no matter how
close you are. But discussing issues like abstinence,
sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
, and birth control can help lower teens' risk of an
or contracting an STD.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) supports sex education
that includes information about both abstinence and birth control.
Research has shown that this information doesn't increase
kids' level of sexual activity, but actually promotes and
increases the proper use of birth control methods among sexually
How and when you discuss sex and birth control is up to you.
Providing the facts is vital, but it's also wise to tell your
kids where you stand. Remember, by approaching these issues like
any other health topics, not as something dirty or embarrassing,
you increase the odds that your kids will feel comfortable coming
to you with any questions and problems. As awkward as it might
feel, answer questions honestly. And if you don't know the
answers, it's OK to say so, then find out and report back.
If you have questions about how to talk with your son or
daughter about sex, consider consulting your doctor. Lots of
parents find this tough to tackle, and a doctor may offer some
What Is the Cervical Cap?
A cervical cap is a small, thimble-shaped cup made of rubber
that fits over the cervix (the part of the uterus that opens into
the upper part of the vagina). It is considered one of the barrier
methods of birth control because it provides a physical barrier
between a male's sperm and a female's egg.
How Does the Cervical Cap Work?
The cervical cap keeps sperm from entering the uterus by forming
a seal around the cervix. For added protection,
is put into the cap before inserting the cap snugly over the
The cap is inserted before having sex and can be left in place
for up to 48 hours. Once in place, there is no need for additional
spermicide every time a couple has sex. After sex, it must be left
in place for at least 6 hours. It can be removed by placing a
finger into the vagina to pull it out.
After each use, the cap must be washed, rinsed, and dried, then
stored in its case. It should not be dusted with baby powder and
should never be used with oil-based lubricants such as mineral oil,
petroleum jelly, or baby oil, which can cause the rubber to become
brittle and crack. Other vaginal creams, such as medicines for
yeast infection, can also damage the rubber.
How Well Does the Cervical Cap Work?
Over the course of a year, 16-20 out of 100 typical couples who
rely on the cervical cap to prevent pregnancy will have an
The cervical cap is less effective for any female who has had a
baby: 40 out of 100 of these couples who use the cervical cap will
have an accidental pregnancy. Of course, these are average figures
and the chance of getting pregnant depends on whether the cervical
cap is used correctly every time the couple has sex.
Protection Against STDs
The cervical cap does not protect against STDs. Couples having
sex must always use
along with the cervical cap to protect against STDs.
Abstinence (not having sex) is the only method that always
prevents pregnancy and STDs.
Possible Side Effects
Most females who use the cervical cap have no problems, but
possible side effects may include:
- Spermicides may irritate the vagina and surrounding
- Strong odors or vaginal discharge may appear if the cervical
cap is left in too long.
- The rubber or latex in the cervical cap may cause an allergic
reaction (this is rare).
Toxic shock syndrome (TSS)
is a rare complication.
Who Uses the Cervical Cap?
The cervical cap is not usually recommended for most young women
and teens since it can be very difficult to insert correctly.
Inserting a cervical cap requires a girl to reach all the way to
the cervix with her fingers. It can sometimes also be knocked out
of place during intercourse, which can result in pregnancy.
The cervical cap isn't very popular in the United States,
which also means that it can be hard to find and may be expensive.
A better option is the
, which works like the cervical cap but is much easier to use.
Where Is the Cervical Cap Available?
A doctor must fit a girl for a cervical cap. During a pelvic
exam, the doctor will measure the vagina and then determine which
size cap is right for her. The doctor or nurse will then teach her
how to insert and remove the cap.
How Much Does the Cervical Cap Cost?
A cervical cap costs about $30-$50 and should be replaced every
year. In addition, there is also the cost of the doctor's visit
and a fitting fee. Many health insurance plans cover these costs,
and family planning clinics (such as Planned Parenthood) charge
much less. In addition, the cost of spermicide is about $0.50 to
$1.50 per use.
Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: January 2007
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice,
diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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