Cervical barriers can be left in place for up to 48 hours, and can be inserted earlier and left in longer than a diaphragm. They do not affect hormonal levels, are immediately effective, and not permanent. In addition, they are made of silicone and users do not experience latex-related allergies. Partner involvement is possible, but not necessary, with these methods. Finally, Lea’s Shield has a one-way release valve to reduce the risk of toxic shock syndrome.
The use of cervical barriers may increase a woman’s risk of toxic shock syndrome, cause abnormal Pap smears, increase the risk of urinary tract infections, increase vaginal odors, cause cervical damage, and increase postcoital drip. In addition, in the United States they must be fitted by a healthcare provider, may be felt by the male partner during sexual intercourse, may dislodge during penile thrusting, and may cause discomfort (Cates & Stewart, 2004).