The use of the diaphragm and other vaginal caps has declined in the last decade with the rise of oral contraceptives and intrauterine devices. This is particularly clearly shown in the group of women attending family planning clinics. These changes have been accompanied by a shift in predominance from male methods to those initiated and managed by women.
Various characteristics of diaphragm acceptors at the King's group of hospital clinics have been studied from January 1972 to May 1976 and compared with those of women accepting other methods such as the pill and intrauterine device. There are marked differences in age at first attendance, and at various stages of family building; there are also differences in marital status and whether working outside the home or not. In the group of housewives accepting the diaphragm, there is an increased proportion whose partners are in non-manual occupations.
These differences are discussed in relation to the acceptability of vaginal barriers, the duration of their use and their effectiveness in the long term. If immediate acceptability could be improved by a new design, they might play a more useful part as a women's method of fertility control.