Cervical Barrier Devices
The practice of covering the cervix to provide protection from pregnancy has existed for centuries. In 18th-century Europe, Casanova promoted the idea of using a squeezed – out lemon half to cover the cervix, and European women shaped beeswax to cover the cervix. In 1838 a German gynecologist took wax impressions of each patient’s cervix to make custom caps out of rubber (Seaman & Seaman, 1978).
As shown in I Figure 10.6, the diaphragm, cervical cap, FemCap, and Lea’s Shield are four methods combining a physical barrier that covers the cervix with vaginal spermicide to protect the cervix from contact with viable sperm. These devices are dome shaped, with a rim around the open side. The diaphragm covers the upper vaginal wall from behind the cervix to underneath the pubic bone. The cervical cap fits over the cervix only. The FemCap and the Lea’s Shield have rims that rest on the vaginal wall surrounding the cervix and have removal straps. Unlike the other devices, the Lea’s Shield allows a one-way flow of fluid from the cervix to the vagina but prevents semen from contact with the cervix.