The female condom is a birth control device (contraceptive) that acts as a barrier that prevents sperm from entering the uterus. Protects against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Female condoms are like a soft and baggy bag, with a ring at each end.
One of the rings is inserted into the vagina to keep the condom in place. The ring at the open end of the female condom is outside the vagina. The outer ring keeps the condom in place and serves to remove it. It is called also “internal condom”.
Only two female condoms (the female condom FC1 and its replacement, FC2) are approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States. The FC1 internal condom, made of plastic (polyurethane), is no longer produced. The FC2 internal condom is made of synthetic latex (safe for those allergic to natural latex) and is pre-lubricated with a silicone-based lubricant.
Why you should use the female condom?
The female condoms help prevent pregnancy. Among other benefits, female condoms have the following characteristics:
- It is effective immediately
- Offers protection against sexually transmitted diseases
- It is sold without a prescription and does not require a special adjustment
- It can be placed up to eight hours before sexual intercourse
- It rarely causes allergic reactions and has minimal risks of side effects.
- It does not require the collaboration of the couple or that the penis is erect, as the male condom requires
According to the FC2 female condom website, this is refundable if you have health insurance and a prescription from your doctor. Health care organizations that offer web (virtual) visits can also allow you to get a prescription to send to a pharmacy. If you do not have health insurance, you can buy the internal condom directly on the website. The FC2 internal condom can also be obtained at universities and community health organizations, such as Planned Parenthood.
Unlike latex, the material used to make the majority of male condoms, female condoms are made of polyurethane and synthetic latex, which is safe for people allergic to natural rubber latex. Female condoms are not affected by moisture or temperature changes. In addition, some women notice that the outer ring of the internal condom stimulates the clitoris.
Facts to consider before using female condoms
However, the female condom is not suitable for everyone. You may need to consider using another type of contraceptive if the following occurs:
- You are allergic to polyurethane or synthetic latex
- You have a high risk of getting pregnant: you are under 30 years old, you have sex three or more times a week, vaginal barrier contraceptive methods have failed previously or you may not be consistent in the use of the female condom
- You don’t feel comfortable with the insertion method
- You have vaginal abnormalities that interfere with the adjustment, placement or retention of female condoms
Risks of using female condoms
In a year, up to 21 out of 100 women who use female condoms will get pregnant, perhaps because they don’t use condoms every time they have sex.
The internal condom has a higher failure rate than the male condom. Condom failure means it is possible to get sexually transmitted infections or get pregnant. The female condom will not protect you if the following occurs:
- The condom breaks
- The condom comes out of the vagina
- The penis passes between the vagina and the outer surface of the condom
- The outer ring of the condom is pushed into the vagina during sex
Female condoms can also cause discomfort during placement, burning sensation, itching or rash.
How to prepare yourself and female condoms
Before using female condoms read the instructions carefully. If the condom is expired or you notice any signs of damage (small tears or holes), discard it and use another.
Practice putting on the female condom before using it for the first time to have sex. Also, pay special attention the first time you use the female condom to make sure it stays in place during sex. Never reuse a female condom.
The female condom should not be used at the same time as the male condom. They can stick together, which could cause the breakage of one of them. At present, the female condom does not have FDA approval for use during anal sex.
How to use a female condom
To use the female condom:
- Open the package carefully. Do not use your teeth or nails as you could break the condom.
- Consider using additional lubrication. You can apply an additional oil-based or oily-based lubricant on the condom to make it easier to place and minimize noise during sexual intercourse.
Insert the female condom. Squeeze the ring at the closed end of the bag with your middle finger and with your thumb and insert it into the vagina like a tampon. Place your index finger inside the condom and push the ring up to the bottom.
Do not let the condom twist. Make sure the outer ring is outside the vagina and extends approximately 1 inch (or about 2.5 cm) beyond the vulvar lips. You can place the female condom inside the vagina up to eight hours before having sex.
- Guide the penis inside the female condom. Make sure the penis does not slip between the vagina and the outer surface of the female condom. During sexual intercourse, make sure the outer ring of the condom is not inserted into the vagina.
- After having sex, take off the female condom carefully. Fold the outer ring so that the semen is inside the condom and, carefully, remove the device from the vagina. Throw the female condom in the trash, not in the toilet.
The coolest thing about the female condoms is you can put it in ahead of time, before foreplay and sex. So, you don’t have to interrupt the action when it’s time to get busy with your partner. Your sex partner can even get in on the fun and insert the internal condom for you!