SKIP AHEAD. . .
What is the Caya Diaphragm?
Before we talk about the Caya Diaphragm specifically, let’s talk about diaphragms in general. For folks who may not know what a diaphragm is, it is a form of non-hormonal birth control. You go in to see your gynecologist who sizes and fits your cervix with a cap-like device, known as the diaphragm. This device is often used in combination with spermicide aka contraceptive gel, something that creates an environment that is not suitable for sperm to thrive and thus move up into the uterus where it would potentially fertilize the egg.
The main differences between the Caya Diaphragm and others? With the Caya Diaphragm, you don’t necessarily need a fitting at your gyno (though they do suggest going if you have never had a fitting before) (3). Where most standard diaphragms come with up to eight sizes, Caya comes with one, and it fits roughly 80% of those who use it. FYI, if you have had a fitting before, it tends to fit those who fall into a 65-80mm range. If you are 50-60mm or 85-90mm, steer clear (3).
The actual design of the Caya Diaphragm versus others is significantly different as well. Whereas most have a dome-shaped circle, Caya is more contoured to fit the cervix of more individuals. The great thing too, is that it is reusable and only needs to be replaced every two years! (That’s it!)
How does it work?
So if Caya is non-hormonal, how exactly does it prevent unwanted pregnancies? As stated before, a diaphragm is a device that is inserted into the vagina and covers the cervical opening. The cervical opening is where sperm gets into the uterus and potentially fertilizes an egg. The cap is a barrier method contraception that blocks the opening of the cervix so that, should sperm be released inside the body, it is significantly harder for it to reach the opening and thus, the uterus (4).
It should also be noted that Caya should be used with something called spermicide or contraceptive gel, which is applied to the underside of the device to help create an environment that is not helpful to allowing sperm to move and thrive (4). Caya can also be used in conjunction with other barrier methods like the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM). FAM is where you track your menstrual cycle, temperature, and/or cervical mucus daily to find when you’re ovulating i.e. when you should have sex that can lead to conception (5).
When using Caya, it is important to leave the diaphragm in for at least six hours after intercourse is finished. Doing this ensures that sperm is no longer mobile before removing and washing the device thoroughly (4). However, if you are going to have sex more than once that day, you need to re-apply the contraceptive gel to the bottom of the cap before having intercourse again. Never leave your device in for more than 24 hours at a time without removing and washing it for sanitary reasons.
It should also be noted that Caya and other diaphragms are not forms of protection against sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS. Regular STI/STD testing is important for you and your partner(s) is incredibly important for happy, healthy relationships!
Non-hormonal birth control
The Caya Diaphragm is just one of many forms of non-hormonal birth control (NHBC). NHBC’s are forms of contraception that prevent unwanted pregnancies without the use of synthetic hormones. Most forms are not protection against STIs/STDs. However, there are some exceptions like condoms (both internal and external) that do the work of both preventing pregnancy and STIs/STDs. Other forms of NHBC are spermicide gels, some forms of IUDs, and internal and external condoms. Methods like FAM (Fertility Awareness Method) are also non-hormonal.
The Caya Diaphragm in other countries
What is completely interesting is that Caya was available in Canada and up to fifteen European countries before it was ever set to come to the United States. The even bigger kicker? You don’t need a prescription for it. While it can be a pain to trek to the gyno, get fitted, and talk to them about the process of proper use; there are some benefits to it (1). Caya is the first new diaphragm to hit the US markets in roughly fifty years. That doesn’t exactly leave a lot of space for information about proper use and any real dialogue about what diaphragms are (2). The closest thing we can think of is maybe a mention in passing on a Sex and the City episode.
On average, the success rate of using this device is roughly 76%, but after a chat with their gyno, this number rises to 94%, which goes to show that knowledge really is power. Along with this really badass information, we’re getting a new form of contraceptive gel along with the new diaphragm design (which was crafted with care providers and real users).
As of 2014, most spermicides contained an ingredient called nonoxynol-9 or N9 for short. It isn’t exactly the best for pregnancy prevention with 1 in 4 people who used it becoming accidentally pregnant within a year (1). Additionally, it is an irritant with consistent use and may even be linked to an increased likelihood of STIs/STDs (2).
But those countries that had Caya before the United States had us beat there too. The gel that comes with the diaphragms is something called Contragel, and it is made with lactic acid. As of the time of this article, it is available for purchase and use in the United States, alongside Caya.
Written by: Danie Crofoot, full-spectrum doula
Medically reviewed by: Danielle LeBlanc, RN
All content found on this Website, including: text, images, audio, or other formats, was created for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
1.Published2014-09-09T15:30:00Z. “Welcome Back, Diaphragm! Caya Is Slated to Hit the U.S. Market.” Bedsider. September 09, 2014. https://www.bedsider.org/features/354-welcome-back-diaphragm-caya-is-slated-to-hit-the-u-s-market.
2. Published2012-01-17T16:30:00Z. “SILCS: It’s Not Your Mama’s Diaphragm (not Her Spermicide, Either).” Bedsider. January 17, 2012. https://www.bedsider.org/features/159-silcs-it-s-not-your-mama-s-diaphragm-not-her-spermicide-either.
3. Caya Staff. “Providers.” Caya Contoured Diaphragm. HPSRx Enterprises. Accessed August 27, 2019. https://www.caya.us.com/providers.
4. Caya Staff. “Patients.” Caya Contoured Diaphragm. HPSRx Enterprises. Accessed August 27, 2019. https://www.caya.us.com/patients.
5. “Fertility Awareness Methods: Natural Birth Control.” Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc. Accessed August 27, 2019. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/fertility-awareness.