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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 camera.gif of birth control.

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?

If used 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 work as well as male condoms in preventing STIs.2

How do you use a female condom?

You can insert a female condom up to 8 hours before sexual intercourse. This condom contains lubricant on the inside. Use a new condom each time you have intercourse. Don't use a female condom with a male condom.

  • These condoms have lubricant on the inside. Spread it by rubbing the sides of the condom together. You can also add lubricant.
  • Find a comfortable position to insert the condom. Some women stand with one foot on a chair. Other women sit on the edge of a chair or lie down.
  • Insert one finger into the condom. With your other hand, squeeze together the closed end of the condom and place that end into your vagina. Use the finger inside the condom to push the closed end as far into the vagina as it will go.
  • The open end of the condom will hang about an inch outside your vagina.
  • During intercourse, the penis should be inside the condom.
  • After ejaculation, remove the condom right away.
    • Twist the open outside ring to close off the condom and hold the semen inside before the condom is removed.
    • Pull the condom out before you stand up.
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