Feasibility and potential acceptability of three cervical barriers among vulnerable young women in Zimbabwe
Background: We explored the potential acceptability of three cervical barriers (CB) (Ortho All-Flex® diaphragm, SILCS® diaphragm, FemCapTM cervical cap) among sexually experienced Zimbabwean young women.
Methods: Forty-five young women (aged 16-21 years) received an individual CB educational session. Participants were then randomly assigned to one of the three CBs in a 1:1:1 ratio, and practised insertion and removal of their device at the clinic. Next, participants were interviewed on their practice experiences, and their post-practice attitudes towards CB.
Results: All 45 young women were willing and able to insert their assigned device. The majority reported “easy” insertion and removal and 93% “liked” the device they tried. All showed interest in participating in future CB studies: when asked which device they would like to try in the future, over half (58%) chose SILCS, regardless of the device they had tried. The majority felt comfortable touching their genitals to insert/remove the CB and most participants favoured methods' attributes associated with female-control and non-interference with sex. Over half the participants said they would prefer to use a CB continuously compared to episodic use. Two-thirds of them expressed interest in CB for dual protection.
Conclusion: The concept of CB, and initial insertion experience, were well accepted in this selected, small group of Zimbabwean young women. Evaluating CB in larger studies seems feasible in this population.