Condom: Female

What is a female condom?

The female condom is a 7-inch pouch that is inserted into the vagina. Condoms are used to prevent pregnancy and to help protect against sexually transmitted diseases or infections (STDs or STIs) such as gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, and HIV/AIDS. If you or your partner are having sex with more than one person, it’s best to use a condom every time you have sex.

How is it used?

There is a flexible ring at the closed end of the thin, soft pouch that holds the condom in place inside the vagina. A slightly larger ring at the open end rests outside the vagina. When the condom is in place, the penis and semen from the penis do not touch the skin of the vagina or cervix during sex.

You can insert the female condom up to 8 hours before sex. Follow these instructions for inserting it:

  1. Find a comfortable position. Three possible positions are:
    • Standing with one foot on a chair
    • Squatting with your knees apart
    • Lying down with your legs bent and knees apart
  2. Hold the female condom with the open end hanging down. Squeeze the ring at the closed end with your thumb and middle finger.
  3. Holding the closed end ring squeezed together, insert the ring into the vagina and push the inner ring and pouch into the vagina past the pubic bone up to the cervix.

When the condom is properly inserted, the outer ring will hang down slightly outside the vagina.

During sex, it may be helpful to use your hand to guide the penis into the vagina inside the female condom. The condom is lubricated. However, if the condom seems to be sticking to and moving with the penis rather than resting in the vagina, stop and add more lubricant. You can add lubricant to the inside of the condom (near the outer ring) or put it directly on the penis. Some lubricants may help prevent condoms from breaking during use. They may also help prevent irritation and so might help decrease the chance of infection. Water-based lubricants, such as KY Jelly, are a good choice to use with any condoms. Do NOT use oils, lotions, or Vaseline (petrolatum, or petroleum jelly) with latex condoms. It is OK to use oil-based lubricants with nitrile condoms.

To remove the female condom after intercourse:

  1. Squeeze and twist the outer ring to keep the semen inside the pouch.
  2. Pull the female condom out gently and throw it away in the garbage. Do not flush it down the toilet. It can clog plumbing.

Do not reuse female condoms. Use a new one every time you have sex. Also, do not use male and female condoms at the same time. They can stick together and tear. Be careful not to tear the condom with fingernails or sharp objects.

What are the benefits?

  • The female condom protects against pregnancy about as well as a diaphragm. With typical use, 1 in 4 women who use this method may get pregnant during 1 year of use. With perfect use, the rate is 1 in 20.
  • The female condom gives women a way to help protect themselves against STDs and STIs as well as help avoid an unplanned pregnancy.
  • The nitrile condom is less likely to cause an allergic reaction than a male latex condom.
  • The female condom is less likely to break or tear than a male condom.
  • You can buy female condoms at the drugstore without a prescription.
  • Using the female condom does not have to interrupt love-making, since it may be inserted hours before sex.

What are the disadvantages?

  • Each female condom can be used just once and costs more than male condoms.
  • The outer ring may hang loosely outside the vagina. This may be uncomfortable for the woman and make it a little harder for the man to insert his penis.
  • Like the male condom, the female condom does not provide complete protection against all STDs. You can be infected by touching areas of the skin that are not covered by the condom. For example, the condom does not protect against herpes or genital warts.
Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-12-11
Last reviewed: 2014-12-11
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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