Female Condoms - Topic Overview
What is a female condom?
Condoms can protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and they can be used to prevent pregnancy.
The female condom is a tube of soft plastic
(polyurethane) that has a closed end. Each end has a ring or rim. The ring at
the closed end is inserted deep into the woman's vagina over the cervix, like a
diaphragm, to hold the tube in place. The ring at the open end remains outside
the opening of the vagina.
The female condom is a barrier method of
How do you get female condoms?
Female condom use doesn't
require a prescription or a visit to a health professional. Condoms are sold in
drugstores and family planning clinics.
How well do female condoms work to prevent pregnancy?
perfectly, the method failure rate for the female condom is 5%, meaning that
with perfect use, 5 women out of 100 will become pregnant in the first year
of use. With typical use, 21 women in 100 will become pregnant in the first
year of use.1 This is mostly caused by not using the
condom every time with intercourse or by not following the directions for use.
How well do they work to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?
The female condom provides some protection of the genital
area around the opening to the
vagina during intercourse. And it may reduce the risk of
getting or transmitting diseases such as genital herpes or genital warts. Some
studies suggest that female condoms are as effective as male condoms in
How do you use a female condom?
The female condom can be inserted up to
8 hours before sexual intercourse. It contains lubricant on the inside. It shouldn't be used with a male condom.
condom should be removed immediately after intercourse, while the woman is
still lying down. The outside ring is twisted to close off the condom and hold
the semen inside before the condom is removed.
A new condom should be used with
each act of sexual intercourse.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of female condoms?
- Doesn't affect future fertility for either the woman or the
- Is used only at the time of sexual intercourse.
safe to use while breast-feeding.
- Is safe to use if you have a
medical condition that limits your choices of other birth control methods.
- Is available in drugstores without a prescription.
- Provides some protection against STIs.
- Keeps semen from touching the woman's vagina. A few women are
allergic to their partner's semen.
- Failure rates for
barrier methods are higher than for most other methods of birth control.
- Female condoms are more difficult to use than
- Some people are embarrassed to use this method or
feel it interrupts foreplay or intercourse.
- The couple must be
comfortable with using the condom and be prepared to use it every time they
- Condoms may decrease sexual sensation.
If a condom tears,
emergency contraception is available as an extra
method of birth control.