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Diaphragm (Birth Control)

Diaphragm (Birth Control)

Definition

Diaphragms are dome-shaped barrier methods of contraception that block sperm from entering the uterus. They are made of latex (rubber) and formed like a shallow cup. Since vaginas vary in size, each patient will need to be fitted by a doctor or nurse with a diaphragm that conforms to the shape and contour of the vagina as well as the strength of the muscles in the vaginal walls. Diaphragms must be used with spermicidal cream or jelly. The device should cause no discomfort, and neither the woman nor her partner should feel that it is there.

Purpose

The purpose of a diaphragm is to prevent access to the womb (uterus) by the sperm and thus prevent conception. The level of effectiveness is about 95%.

Precautions

Each client will undergo a physical examination and a Pap smear. If these are normal, the physician will fit the patient for the device and give instructions on how to insert, remove, and clean the object. She will also be taught the signs and symptoms of potential complications.

Description

Prior to insertion, the inside of the dome and the rim are covered with a thick layer (perhaps a tablespoon) of a spermicide that is compatible with the diaphragm being used. The domed area covers the opening into the uterus (cervix) and keeps the spermicide in place. As a result, any sperm that might get under the diaphragm will be destroyed.

Diaphragms may be inserted two-three hours prior to intercourse, and must be left in place for six to eight hours following sexual relations. During this time the woman may not swim, bathe, or douche, but she may shower. If she desires to have intercourse again before the six to eight hours have passed, the diaphragm should not be removed. Instead, an applicator full of spermicide should be deposited into the vagina.

A diaphragm will last for a year or more. It should be examined weekly for holes. This can be done by holding it up to the light or filling it with water.

Preparation

Before inserting the diaphragm, the woman should empty her bladder and wash her hands with soap and water. The device should be checked for leaks by filling it with water or holding it up to the light. A spermicidal jelly is then applied to the inside and outside, and especially around the rim. While standing with one foot elevated on a chair or step, lying down, or squatting, the woman folds the diaphragm inward toward the middle and inserts it into the vagina as far as it will go.

Aftercare

When removed, the diaphragm should be washed with a mild soap and water. After being dried, it can be dusted with corn starch before being returned to its container. The diaphragm should always be stored away from sunlight and heat in a cool, dry place. It should not be washed with harsh or perfumed soaps or used with perfumed powders because either of these substances can damage the diaphragm.

Risks

Although rare, wearing the diaphragm longer than the recommended time can result in toxic shock syndrome. The signs and symptoms of this serious illness include sudden onset of high fever, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, faintness, weakness, aching muscles and joints, and rash. The doctor must be notified immediately if any of these conditions appear. An allergic reaction to the spermicide or the material from which the device is made is also possible. Diaphragm use is also associated with an increased risk of bladder infections.

It should be noted that the diaphragm can become dislodged during intercourse, which could result in an unwanted pregnancy. To ensure a secure fit, a woman should be examined for a refitting if she gains or loses more than 10 lbs (4.5 kg), or after she gives birth.

Normal results

Consumers can expect an efficiency rate of about 95% in preventing pregnancy. Using a male condom in conjunction with the diaphragm decreases the potential for pregnancy. Diaphragms provide no protection against AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases.

Resources

ORGANIZATIONS

Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. 810 Seventh Ave., New York, NY, 10019. (800) 669-0156. http://www.plannedparenthood.org.

OTHER

"The Diaphragm." Cincinnati Women's Services. http://gynpages.com/cws/8.html.

"Guide to Safer Sex." Sexual Health InfoCenter. http://www.sexhealth.org/infocenter/GuideSS/diaphragm.htm.

KEY TERMS

Spermicide A substance that kills sperm.

Toxic shock syndrome An uncommon, but potentially fatal, disease that has been associated with the use of diaphragms and vaginal tampons. The symptoms include high fever, vomiting, and diarrhea.

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diaphragm

diaphragm The term has come to be applied to any thin partition, either in a man-made instrument or in biology. But the original meaning from the Greek referred more to hedging around or fencing in; that meaning is well fitted by the contraceptive diaphragm: a thin rubber cup which fences in the neck of the womb against invasion by sperm.

The human anatomical diaphragm is a part muscle, part tendinous sheet, convex upwards, that separates the thorax from the abdomen. It is described as doubly ‘domed’, accommodating below it the liver on the right and the stomach and spleen on the left. It is attached to the inside of the lower margin of the ‘rib cage’: from the sternum (breast bone) in front, the cartilages interposed between this and the lower ribs around the sides, to reach the vertebral column behind. It is a complete partition except for openings to allow passage between thorax and abdomen: for the oesophagus to join the stomach, for the main artery (aorta) and for the main vein (inferior vena cava) that carry blood to and from the lower body, and for nerves and lymphatics vessels.

When the muscle of the diaphragm contracts, its convexity is flattened. This, together with other mechanical factors and muscular actions, causes an increase in the capacity of the thorax, which in turn draws air into the lungs. The motor nerve supply to the diaphragm comes to its upper surface in the phrenic nerves from each side of the neck. These carry the rhythmic bursts of impulses, relayed from the brain stem via the phrenic motor neurons in the spinal cord, which cause regular inspiration. Each time these stop, the diaphragm relaxes and rises, and air leaves the lungs. Although this cyclical control of the diaphragm and other breathing muscles occurs automatically, it is of course possible to control them voluntarily — to stop, start, or deepen breathing. The extent to which the diaphragm is used relative to the muscles of the thorax can also come under voluntary control, by selecting ‘abdominal’ breathing rather than chest expansion.

Sheila Jennett


See respiratory system.See also breathing.

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diaphragm

diaphragm (dī´əfrăm´), term used to describe any of several large muscles, found in humans and other mammals, which separate two adjacent regions of the body. The most commonly known muscle of this class is the thoraco-abdominal diaphragm. In humans, the thoraco-abdominal diaphragm acts as a partition between the cavity of the chest and that of the abdomen. The chief muscle used in respiration, it is relaxed and dome-shaped during exhalation. During inhalation it contracts, pulling downward, and with the combined contraction of the chest muscles allows the chest cavity to expand. Any interference with its free movement, as in the paralysis of poliomyelitis, seriously impedes the function of the lungs and therefore endangers life. In its downward movement the thoraco-abdominal diaphragm also stimulates the stomach and liver and thus aids in the digestive processes. Spasmodic contraction results in hiccups. The thoraco-abdominal diaphragm is also subject to developmental defects, hernia, injury, displacement, and infection. Other diaphragms in the human body include the pelvic diaphragm and the urogenital diaphragm, which use similar muscular contractions and expansions in their respective functions.

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diaphragm

di·a·phragm / ˈdīəˌfram/ • n. 1. a dome-shaped, muscular partition separating the thorax from the abdomen in mammals. It plays a major role in breathing, as its contraction increases the volume of the thorax and so inflates the lungs. 2. a thin sheet of material forming a partition. ∎  a taut, flexible membrane in mechanical or acoustic systems. ∎  a thin contraceptive cap fitting over the cervix. 3. a device for varying the effective aperture of the lens in a camera or other optical system. DERIVATIVES: di·a·phrag·mat·ic / ˌdīəfragˈmatik/ adj. ORIGIN: late Middle English: from late Latin diaphragma, from Greek, from dia ‘through, apart’ + phragma ‘a fence.’

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diaphragm

diaphragm (dy-ă-fram) n.
1. (in anatomy) a thin musculomembranous dome-shaped muscle that separates the thoracic and abdominal cavities. It plays an important role in breathing. There are openings in the diaphragm through which the oesophagus, blood vessels, and nerves pass.

2. a hemispherical rubber cap fitted inside the vagina over the neck (cervix) of the uterus as a contraceptive. When combined with the use of a chemical spermicide the diaphragm provides reasonably reliable contraception.

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diaphragm

diaphragm In mammals, a transverse partition that separates the thoracic and abdominal cavities. When at rest the diaphragm is arched up into the thorax; its flattening increases the volume of the thorax, thus allowing the lungs to expand and so playing an important part in breathing. It is composed partly of muscle and partly of tendon, and is covered by a serous membrane.

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diaphragm

diaphragm The muscular membrane that divides the thorax (chest) from the abdomen in mammals. It plays an essential role in breathing (see also respiratory movement), being depressed during inspiration and raised during expiration.

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diaphragm

diaphragm Sheet of muscle that separates the abdomen from the thorax. During exhalation, it relaxes and allows the chest to subside; on inhalation it contracts and flattens, causing the chest cavity to enlarge.

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diaphragm

diaphragm partition dividing the thorax from the abdomen. XVII (earlier in L. form). — late L. diaphragma — Gr. diáphragma f. DIA- + phrágma fence.

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diaphragm

diaphragm. See arch.

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diaphragm

diaphragmam, Amsterdam, Assam, Bram, cam, cham, cheongsam, clam, cram, dam, damn, drachm, dram, exam, femme, flam, gam, glam, gram, ham, jam, jamb, lam, lamb, mam, mesdames, Omar Khayyám, Pam, pram, pro-am, ram, Sam, scam, scram, sham, Siam, slam, Spam, swam, tam, tram, Vietnam, wham, yam •in memoriam • ad nauseam •iamb, Priam •grandam • Edam • goddam •quondam • Potsdam • cofferdam •Rotterdam • Oxfam • Birmingham •Abraham • logjam • CAD-CAM •minicam • Nicam •Eelam, Elam •flimflam • oriflamme • Suriname •ad personam • diazepam • tangram •ashram • telegram • milligram •epigram • centigram • dithyramb •program, programme •cardiogram • radiogram • echogram •mammogram •aerogramme (US aerogram) •microgram • dirham •electrocardiogram • ideogram •heliogram • diaphragm • diagram •parallelogram • kilogram • hologram •encephalogram • anagram •monogram • sonogram • kissogram •pentagram • cryptogram • photogram •tam-tam • wigwam • whim-wham

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"diaphragm." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"diaphragm." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 24, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/diaphragm

"diaphragm." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved February 24, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/diaphragm

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
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