Technologies for Reproductive Health

Features of the SILCS Diaphragm

Comfortable and confident protection for women

Contraceptive diaphragms have been available for nearly a century. Diaphragms provide safe, user-initiated protection from unintended pregnancy. Like other barrier methods, effectiveness depends on consistent and correct use. Diaphragms provide nonhormonal contraceptive protection, with few if any side effects. Almost all women can use a diaphragm.

Photo: CBAS.

Traditional diaphragms come in multiple sizes and require a health care provider to conduct a pelvic exam to determine the correct size. Photo: CBAS.

A diaphragm is a latex or silicone cup with a firm, flexible rim and shallow dome. It is inserted into the vagina before sex to cover the cervix. Contraceptive gel is applied to the dome before insertion to increase effectiveness. The diaphragm helps prevent pregnancy by blocking sperm from entering the cervix, contraceptive gel provides secondary protection by stopping sperm from moving. The diaphragm must be worn for at least six hours after sex. Diaphragms are reusable and can be used up to two years, or perhaps longer.

SILCS features

The SILCS Diaphragm is a single-size, contoured cervical barrier designed to improve ease of use and delivery over traditional diaphragms. SILCS could improve reproductive health by expanding women’s protection options to include a nonhormonal, reusable, contraceptive barrier method. With its single-size design, SILCS should be easier to provide because a pelvic exam is not required, and it will be simpler to supply than multi-size diaphragms.

The features of the SILCS Diaphragm.

The features of the SILCS Diaphragm. Image: PATH/Kessel Marketing.

SILCS is made from silicone and is more durable than latex diaphragms. The rim contains a nylon spring that compresses easily during insertion and removal. The contoured spring is anatomically shaped and designed to be comfortable. User-centered design resulted in key features that improve acceptability and ease of use:

Grip dimples
  • Help the woman know where to hold and squeeze the rim during insertion.
Removal dome
  • Allows for easy removal; a woman can hook her finger under or over the dome to remove the device.
Cervical cup
  • Accommodates a range of sizes of cervices; is soft enough to collapse when there is unused space.
  • Anatomically shaped for comfort. Pliable enough to compress easily during insertion and removal.
  • Strong enough to push against and guide the SILCS deep into the vagina so it covers the cervix.