Image: The SILCS diaphragm (Photo courtesy of CONRAD).
A new easy to use, safe, and comfortable single-size contraceptive barrier device expands family-planning choices for women worldwide.
The SILCS Diaphragm possesses a contoured shape and patented spring technology that allows one size to fit most women, who will therefore not need a fitting exam to determine diaphragm size. The single-size device should simplify procurement as well; especially beneficial to clinics in both developed and low-resource settings where there is a shortage of health care providers and the health system is over stretched, encouraging family planning programs to begin including diaphragms as part of their agenda.
The SILCS Diaphragm is made of durable silicone, and has a shelf life of five years and a use life of up to two years. Suggestions from both women and men were implemented in a user-centered design process, which led to features that make the device easy to use and comfortable to wear, such as a rim that contains a nylon spring that compresses easily during insertion and removal, grip dimples on the rim of the device offer a cue where to squeeze SILCS for insertion, and a removal dome to help users remove the device. The SILCS Diaphragm has received the European community CE marking of approval, and will be marketed as the Caya contoured diaphragm.
The SILCS diaphragm was designed through a collaboration between PATH (Seattle, WA, USA), a global health nonprofit; CONRAD, a reproductive health product development organization operated through the Eastern Virginia Medical School (Norfolk, VA, USA); the United States Agency for International Development (USAID; Washington DC, USA); and other partners. Women and their partners in the Dominican Republic, South Africa, Thailand, and the United States validated the design of the SILCS through user acceptability studies.
“PATH has more than 35 years of expertise developing and introducing new and overlooked approaches to global health challenges, so we knew that a well-designed and marketed diaphragm could have real health benefits for women worldwide,” said Steve Davis, president and CEO of PATH. “This multiyear process has taken the persistence and dedication of a remarkable group of public- and private-sector partners. Our work is by no means over, but this launch moves us one step closer to expanding women’s options for contraception.”
“This woman-initiated, nonhormonal contraceptive barrier method has great potential to improve women’s reproductive health options by addressing several of the reasons for unmet contraceptive need,” said Judy Manning, team lead for contraceptive research and development at USAID. “The device may fill another needed role by serving as a delivery method for gels that help protect against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections; it could be our first true multipurpose prevention product.”
Eastern Virginia Medical School