A female condom is a barrier method of contraception. It is a soft pouch that looks like a male condom held upside down. It has flexible rings on each end. One smaller ring is placed in the closed end of the condom that goes deep inside the vagina. The bigger ring is placed on the open end that hangs just outside the vagina.
Female condoms are not tight on the penis, and they don’t inhibit or dull sensation like male condoms. Hence, it is believed that they feel more natural compared to wearing male condoms. Some female condom products are made of heat-transmitting materials, which are more pleasurable as compared to latex condoms.
Most female condoms are made up of latex-free (synthetic) rubber known as nitrile. The FC2 or Female Condom is approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) and is pre-lubricated with a silicone-based lubricant.
Why do you need female condoms?
Female condoms come with some benefits that are similar to male condoms. These include
- Prevention of pregnancy
- Reduced risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- An immediate and temporary form of contraception
- Available without a prescription
- Can be placed up to eight hours before sex
- No chance of allergy or almost minimal to no side effects
- Does not require the penis to be erect
- Not affected by moisture or changes in temperature
- The external ring can help stimulate the clitoris
- Can be used during anal sex
When can you not use female condoms?
Though female condoms can be used by most women, they may not be the right choice for contraception for you if
- You are allergic to synthetic latex.
- You have vaginal conditions that may not allow for proper placement of the female condom.
- You are not comfortable with inserting anything like a female condom into your vagina.
- You have a history of previous contraceptive failure with vaginal barrier methods.
- You are less likely to use female condoms every time you have sex.
How to insert female condoms
Female condom insertion is a simple technique. You first need to squeeze the ring at the closed end of the condom with your thumb and middle finger. Insert your index finger through the open end of the condom and push the ring as far as you can up into the vagina. The outer ring should be outside the vagina and an inch away from the labia.
Be aware of the following precautions when using a female condom.
- Remove the condom from the pack by tearing the package open carefully with your fingers and not with your fingernails or teeth.
- Use extra lube for smooth insertion.
- Guide the penis into the condom up into the vagina.
- Remove the condom from the vagina gently to avoid tearing or spilling semen into the vagina.
How effective are female condoms?
Female condoms are less effective than male condoms in keeping you from getting pregnant or contracting an STD. Female condoms are 79 percent effective in preventing pregnancy as compared to male condoms that are 87 percent effective. This means 21 out of 100 women can get pregnant in a year even after using female condoms whereas only 13 out of 100 women get pregnant when male condoms are used. The higher failure rate of female condoms could be because females may not be using them every time they have sex.
The female condom may not offer you enough protection if
- The penis goes in between the vagina and the outer surface of the condom.
- The condom is defective (has holes or tears).
- The condom tears during sex.
- The condom slips out of the vagina.
- The outer ring of the condom gets pushed into the vagina during sex.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top How Do Female Condoms Feel Related Articles
Barrier Methods of Birth Control Side Effects, Advantages, and Disadvantages
Many barrier methods of birth control are available for a man or woman, for example, the sponge, female and male condoms, diaphram, spermicides, male condoms, female condoms, contraceptive sponge, diaphragm, and cervical cap. Side effects, and efficacy (in preventing pregnancy) depends on the type of birth control used.
Birth Control OptionsBirth control is available in a variety of methods and types. The method of birth control varies from person to person, and their preferences to either become pregnant or not. Examples of barrier methods include barrier methods (sponge, spermicides, condoms), hormonal methods (pill, patch), surgical sterilization (tubal ligation, vasectomy), natural methods, and the morning after pill. Side effects and risks of each birth control option should be reviewed prior to using any birth control method.
Choosing Your Birth Control MethodWhich birth control option is right for you? Discover birth control methods such as birth control pills, birth control shot, implant, patch and more. Learn about birth control side effects and effectiveness.
Birth Control Quiz: Test Your Medical IQWhat is the best form of birth control? Take this quiz to find out about hormonal, surgical, barrier, and natural methods!
Can I Get HIV From Surfaces?Studies proved that HIV cannot be transmitted through surfaces such as toilet seats, chairs, doorknobs, drinking glasses and bedsheets. The virus cannot survive outside a human host; hence, transmission through air, water (swimming pools), insect bite or casual contacts such as handshake, hug or touch is not possible.
Can I Get Pregnant Even If He Pulls Out?If you use the pull out method perfectly each time, it has about a 96% success rate. However, it is challenging to do it exactly right every time. So, in reality, it has about a 78% success rate.
CondomsCondoms provide a way for men and women to prevent pregnancy. There are many methods of birth control; some types also protect against sexually transmitted diseases. Condoms are one type of birth control that in addition to preventing pregnancy also prevent the spread of STD's.
Can I Get HIV From Casual Contact Like Hugging or Touching?Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cannot spread through casual contact such as hugging or touching. HIV does not spread through urine, saliva, tears, sweat, kissing (closed mouth or social kissing), shaking hands, sharing utensils, sharing food or drinks, sharing clothes, or from toilet seats. HIV is spread through bodily fluids from a person with HIV.
Is HIV PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis) Recommended for Me?Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) refers to a short course of antiretroviral medications taken soon after a possible exposure to HIV to prevent the virus from infecting your body.
Natural Birth ControlNatural methods of contraception are considered "natural" because they are non-mechanical and non-hormonal. Fertility awareness methods (FAMs) are based upon knowing when a woman ovulates each month. Natural methods of birth control include: the calendar rhythm, basal body temperature, mucus inspection, symptothermal, use of an ovulation indicator testing kit, withdrawal, lactational infertility, douching and urination, and abstinence.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are among the most common infectious diseases in the United States. STDs can be spread through any type of sexual activity involving the sex organs, the anus or mouth, or through contact with blood during sexual activity. Examples of STDs include, chancroid, chlamydia, gonorrhea, granuloma inguinale, lymphogranuloma venereum, syphilis, genital herpes, genital warts, trichomoniasis, pubic lice (crabs), and scabies. Treatment is generally with antibiotics; however, some STDs that go untreated can lead to death.
STD QuizThere are more sexually transmitted diseases than just the ones you've heard of. Find out what you've been missing with the STD Quiz.
STDs Facts SlideshowSexually transmitted infections like chlamydia and genital herpes are common STDs. Think you might have an STD? You’re not alone. Find pictures of herpes, gonorrhea, and more. Learn how venereal disease can harm your health, and how to tell your partner if you have an STD.
Which Birth Control Has Least Side Effects?No form of birth control is free of side effects, but there are some that have the least noticeable ones.
Should I Be Worried About Pregnancy if I Used a Condom?Condoms are a popular method of birth control. If used correctly, there's about a 2 percent risk of becoming pregnant while using a condom, but it's a good idea to use another method of birth control along with it.