The cervical cap: effectiveness as a contraceptive

J Nurse Midwifery. 1983 Jan-Feb;28(1):3-6. doi: 10.1016/0091-2182(83)90238-0.


PIP: The cervical cap has been widely used as a barrier method of birth control in England and Europe for most of this century but has not been generally available in the United States. The nurse practitioners and nurse midwives at the Childbearing Childrearing Center of the University of Minnesota began offering the cervical cap as a birth control option in May 1980. The cervical cap acts as a mechanical contraceptive barrier by preventing passage of sperm through the cervical os into the uterus, thereby preventing subsequent fertilization of the egg. As with the diaphragm, maximum protection is achieved by a combination of mechanical and chemical barriers: the cap prevents direct insemination, while the spermicide destroys the mobility of sperm which makes their way over the rim of the cap. This study looks at the effectiveness and satisfaction of the cervical cap in 76 women fitted over a 1 year period. The cap is 80.4% effective according to the Pearl Index and 89% of the women are satisfied with using the cap. There is a 51% continuation rate over a 1-year period. The cervical cap appears to have a satisfactory rate of contraception when compared with other barrier methods and women are adept at its use. A significant finding is that most pregnancies occur in the 1st 3 months of cap use. The shortcomings of the Pearl index may be implicated in the higher than expected pregnancy rate of the cervical cap. User problems associated with the cervical cap include bloating, cramping, and odor. A 27% discontinuation rate for the cervical cap is not out of proportion to other barrier methods. Historically, options in contraception have been limited. Nurses have often personally and professionally felt this frustration. While the cervical cap is not the option for many women, it provides some with a choice among barrier methods. Accurate and complete statistical data will enable women to better choose a method of contraception. This preliminary data indicates a contraceptive effect similar to the vaginal diaphragm and an equally satisfactory continuation rate of the method.

MeSH terms

  • Cervix Uteri
  • Consumer Behavior
  • Contraceptive Devices, Female / standards*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy