How Much Does a Diaphragm Cost?


Written by:  Howmuchisit.org Staff
Last Updated:  August 13, 2018

A diaphragm contraceptive is a shallow, soft silicone bendable cup that’s inserted into the vagina to cover your cervix during intercourse to prevent a pregnancy.

As a form of birth control, you will bend it in half and insert it to cover your cervix, essentially stopping the sperm from joining the egg.  In order for it to work, however, a spermicide cream or gel must be applied before inserting in order to kill the sperm and make the device much more effective.

Diaphragm birth control cost

The cost of a diaphragm, including your fitting and exam, often ranges anywhere from $0 to about $200 in total.  This cost, ultimately, depends on your doctor office fees, your insurance (if you have it) and your geographical location.  You will also need to budget for a spermicide gel in order for the diaphragm to work properly, and this kit can be purchased over the counter since no prescription will be required.  Most pharmacies and even online via Amazon.com, for instance, will often charge about $10 to $15 for a highly-rated cream.

Fees to budget forRange
Office visit for the prescription and fitting$0 to $150, depending on insurance.
Diaphragm prescription$15 to $60, depending on insurance
Spermicide or cream$15~

Even if you do not have a health insurance policy, you can still save money as Medicaid and state programs can help you afford birth control services as well as birth control-related visits.  Either talk with your local state health department or check out their official website for more information on ways to take advantage.

Planned Parenthood, for example, claims the cost of a fitting and exam can cost about $0 to $200, with another $5 to $15 that needs to be budgeted for the spermicide kit.  In some cases, they note you may be able to get a diaphragm for free or even at a reduced price if you have health insurance as all policies are required by law to cover most types of birth control.  A local Planned Parenthood health center can also help you with the costs, even if you have health insurance.

According to Bedsider.org, you can keep your diaphragm for up to 10 years, making it one of the best “value for your buck” at the equivalent of 42 cents to $2.08 a month.  Even without insurance, the website mentions you should be prepared to budget anywhere from $15 to $75 plus the cost of a fitting, which is often less expensive at a clinic such as Planned Parenthood.

Where can I buy a diaphragm?

A diaphragm is only available via a prescription and is available at most pharmacies and/or health centers.  As a diaphragm is not a “one size fits all,” your nurse or doctor will need to fit you before a prescription is written as well as show you how you insert and remove it.  Aside from using it, you will also need to apply a spermicide in order for it to work 100%, but unlike a prescription for a diaphragm, you will not need a prescription for the spermicide gel or cream as this can be purchased over the counter.

How effective is a diaphragm?

Even if you use it as you should every time you have intercourse, you still have the chance of a pregnancy.  According to studies, it’s 94% effective or about 88% effective if it’s not used as it should, meaning every 12 out of 100 people will get pregnant each year while using one.  However, while these stats could sound high, do keep in mind some people will not use it as they should, not following directions, or they do not use every time they have intercourse, which could throw off the stats.

To make it more effective and not become the 12%, you will want to use it EVERY TIME you have intercourse, always use a spermicide, make sure it’s covering your cervix (your doctor will tell you how this is done) and use another method of birth control alongside it such as a condom.

The pros of using one

It’s small and easy to carry around

It rarely hinders the sexual experience, according to AmericanPregnancy.org

When compared to other methods, it’s inexpensive and reusable

Health insurance will cover it, making it close to free for most

It can be used multiple times before being taken out

As it does not contain hormones, it will not alter your hormone levels or menstrual cycle, making it safe option if breastfeeding or are thinking about getting pregnant

The cons of using one

Spermicide, which needs to be used with it, can be quite messy for some

A prescription is required

It has been known to contribute to urinary tract infections

Always needs to be cleaned and stored properly

In some cases, it will need to be resized following a pregnancy, weight gain (more than 15-20 pounds) and/or an abortion

It cannot be used if you are allergic to silicone

For some, it is difficult to insert, causing uncomfortable irritation or frequent UTIs as mentioned above

Tips to know

A diaphragm will not protect you from STDs, only condoms will as per Planned Parenthood.

As long as it’s cleaned after every use and stored in a dry container, it is reusable; in fact, it can be used for as long as 10 years, according to Bedsider.org, the website mentioned earlier.

Side effects may include vaginal irritation, latex allergies or irregularities of the vagina/cervix could create an additional risk.

Diaphragm vs cervical cap

A common question that often arises online is what the difference is between a diaphragm and cervical cap.

A diaphragm is a shallow latex cup, is up to 94% effective and can be used for up to 24 hours, while the cap is shaped similar to a sailor’s hat, is up to 86% effective and can be sued for up to 48 hours.  Plus, both are fitted differently as the diaphragm will cover the cervix and the entire area around it while the cap fits snugly on the cervix itself.

How to use a diaphragm

According to Healthline.com, a diaphragm is always the most effective when used with a spermicide, so, before it is even inserted, you will want to apply about a teaspoon worth of spermicide into the dome and spread it around the rim.  Always check the expiration date and be sure to use a cream that is specifically designed for a diaphragm as some can create smaller holes in the silicone.

To insert, it will be done so in a way that is comparable to a tampon or menstrual cup.  Propping up one leg, you will fold the diaphragm in half with the dome pointing down while using your other hand to open your vagina.  While open, slightly insert while aiming at the tailbone, and once inside, push as far as it can go.  Lastly, use your finger to wrap the front rim behind your pubic bone, usually while aiming for the belly button.

To make sure it’s inserted correctly, insert your finger to see if you can feel any part of your cervix.  While doing so, you should only be able to feel it while pushing through the diaphragm, and if you’re able to feel any part of your cervix, you will want to take it out and re-insert again.  If you ever have any trouble doing so, talk with your doctor to either receive another inserted as it may not be sized appropriately or for another method.


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