Cervical Barrier Methods for Women

Lea's Shield

Average Failure Rate: 14%

The Lea's Shield is a vaginal barrier contraceptive device. Available by prescription only, it is about the size of a diaphragm. Lea's Shield is composed entirely of medical-grade silicone rubber, and thus it is non-allergenic. The device is one-size-fits-all, washable, and reusable.

How Lea's Shield Works

The Lea's Shield completely covers the cervix, blocking sperm access. It is recommended that women use spermicide, with the Lea's Shield, as it enhances the contraceptive effect by killing sperm. This device differs from a diaphragm and cervical cap in two important ways. The Lea's Shield is not held in place by the cervix (like the cap) or pubic bone (like the diaphragm) but rather by the vaginal wall. The size of the cervix and the length of the vagina do not play a role, thus the device does not need to be "fitted" by a doctor. The Lea's Shield works by volume and is held by the vagina's muscles.

Effectiveness of the Lea's Shield Barrier Contraceptive

Because the effectiveness of the Lea's Shield depends on proper use, there is more room for user error with this device. Reported failure rates range from 4-15% per year. Using the Lea's Shield consistently and properly for every sex act will lead to better efficacy. Spermicide also improves the effectiveness. Clinical studies show that the device is more effective in women who have not previously given birth. However, it was more effective for women who had given birth than was the diaphragm or older versions of the cervical cap.

Using Lea's Shield

Before use, a woman fills the bowl with spermicide. Like a tampon, she then squeezes the device and inserts it as far as it can go. It settles in place automatically and completely covers the cervix. Once inserted, the air trapped between the cervix and the device will be vented out of the one-way valve, creating an air-tight seal between the vaginal wall and the device. This valve also allows passage of natural cervical secretions. Lea's Shield can be inserted any time prior to intercourse, but must be left in place for at least 8 hours after sex and no more than 48 hours. It is not to be used during menstruation. To remove the device, the user grabs the loop and twists it to break the seal.

Side-Effects and Health Risks of Lea's Shield

The Lea's Shield is considered fairly safe. In clinical trials, the most common complaint was from the male partner, who felt the device was uncomfortable (8.2%). A small percentage of women also reported a urinary tract infection, spotting, discomfort, yeast infection, and/or an abnormal Pap test. No major health risks are associated with the Lea's Shield.

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