The female condom is a lubricated polyurethane sheath or pouch that has two ends. One end is closed and one is open, with flexible rings at each end. It protects against pregnancy by catching the sperm in the pouch and preventing it from entering the vagina.
How is it Used?
The closed end of the condom is placed inside the vagina (the ring holds the pouch in place), while the open end stays outside the vaginal opening. To use:
- Lubricate the closed end (part with the small ring).
- Squeeze the sides of the ring at the closed end together and insert the pouch into the vagina like a tampon.
- Insert the ring into the vagina until it can't go any farther (when it has reached the cervix).
- Remove fingers from the vagina, allowing the large ring of the open end to hang outside of the vagina.
- To remove the condom, squeeze the ring located outside of the vagina, twist and pull, ensuring that the semen remains inside of the pouch. Throw the condom away in the garbage (do not flush).
Like the male condom, the female condom is intended for one-time use only. It can be used with spermicide.
Does it Protect Against STIs?
STI stands for sexually transmitted infection. STI risk varies depending on how you choose to protect yourself and your partner during sexual or intimate activities.
Female condoms are made of polyurethane. Tests suggest that they protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), but possibly not all.
Does it Protect Against Pregnancy?
Yes. The chances of getting pregnant while using a female condom are:
- Typical use: 21 percent
- Perfect use: 5 percent
Advantages and Disadvantages
- Can be purchased at grocery and drugstores without a doctor's prescription.
- Insertion is easy once the technique is learned.
- Stays in place even when a man loses his erection, unlike the male condom.
- Allows the woman to take responsibility and protect herself against STIs and pregnancy.
- The condom has to be put in just before intercourse, which takes time.
- The condom may slip into the vagina during intercourse.
- The outer ring may irritate the female's vagina or vulva.
- The inner ring may irritate the male's penis.
- Some argue a female condom reduces pleasurable feeling or that it’s noisy, which means more lubrication is needed.
Things to Remember
- The female condom cannot be used along with the male condom.
- Movement of the pouch from side to side during intercourse is normal.
Last Reviewed: January 2019