Female Condom

Give women more control and are good for those with latex allergies.

A female condom is a pouch you insert into your vagina. It’s not the prettiest thing in the world, but it does give you more control than a male condom when it comes to preventing STIs. Female condoms work the same way that male condoms do, except that you wear one on the inside instead of the guy wearing it on the outside. They keep sperm inside the condom and out of your vagina.

Effec­tive­ness

Not quite as effective as a male condom; more effective with spermicide.

Perfect Use

95%

Typical Use

79%

Side Effects

Usually none, but could cause a little irritation to your or your guy’s parts.

Effort

You have to use one EVERY time.

Cost

Depending on where you get them, $0-$5 a piece.

How do I get it?

Can find them at health centers and online, and in some drugstores and supermarkets.

Find a Clinic

Find your local health center here.

  • STI protection!

    Female condoms protect you from most sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

    Your partner refuses to wear a condom

    If your partner won’t wear a condom, but you still want protection against STIs, the female condom is the way to go.

    Female condoms take effort and commitment

    You have to make sure to use them correctly, every time, no matter what, in order for them to be effective.

    No prescription necessary

    If you can’t make it to the doctor (or don’t want to), you can always use a female condom—though they can be a lot harder to find than male condoms.

    Cool for people with latex allergies

    Unlike most male condoms, female condoms are made of polyurethane (plastic) or nitrile (a synthetic rubber), so you can use them even if you’re allergic to latex.

  • Female condoms are a little pricier

    than their male counterparts,but they’re a great alternative for people with a latex allergy since they’re made with nitrile or polyurethane. (P.S. Nitrile is a synthetic rubber that’s protective against disease.)

    Prices:*

    • CVS: $3.50 ($18 for a box of five)
    • Target: N/A
    • Walgreens: $3.40 ($17 for a box of five)
    • Walmart: N/A
    • Payment assistance: Check with your local family planning health centers and find out if they offer free or low-cost female condoms and other kinds of birth control (most do).

    * Keep in mind that these prices are from a survey of online retailers; prices at the store may be a bit higher—or lower—than what we found online.

  • Female condoms are really pretty easy to use,

    but it takes a bit of practice and getting used to. And remember, if you’re relying on female condoms, you have to use one EVERY SINGLE TIME.

    How to insert a Female Condom

    1. Put some spermicide or lubricant on the outside of the closed end.
    2. Get comfy, like you’re going to put in a tampon.
    3. Squeeze the sides of the closed-end ring together and insert it like a tampon.
    4. Push the ring as far into your vagina as it’ll go, all the way to your cervix.
    5. Pull out your finger and let the outer ring hang about an inch outside your vagina. (Yes, it’ll look a little funny.)
    6. If you want to use a female condom for anal sex, follow the same process. But with your anus, of course.

    Don’t worry if it moves side to side while you’re doing it. That’s normal. If your man slips out of the condom and into your vagina, gently remove it and reinsert. But if he ejaculates outside of the female condom and into your vagina by accident, you may want to consider Emergency Contraception.

    How to remove a Female Condom

    1. Squeeze the outer ring and twist it closed like a baggie, so semen doesn’t spill out.
    2. Pull the condom out gently.
    3. Throw it away in a trashcan (preferably one that is out of the reach of children and pets). Don’t flush it down the toilet! That’s just bad for your plumbing.

    One final thing. You might think using a male condom along with a female condom doubles your protection. Not true. It’d just make both more likely to rip. So don’t do it.

  • There are positive and negative things to say

    about each and every method. And everyone’s different—so what you experience may not be the same as what your friend experiences.

    The Positive

    Positive “side effects”? You bet. There are actually lots of things about birth control that are good for your body as well as your sex life.

    • Helps protect you from STIs
    • The outer ring may stimulate your clit
    • No prescription necessary
    • Can be used even if you’re allergic to latex
    • Can be used with both oil-based and water-based lube
    • Stays in place even if your man loses his erection

    The Negative

    Everyone worries about negative side effects, but for most women, they’re not a problem.

    • Can cause irritation
    • Some people may be sensitive to certain brands of lubricant (If so, try another brand)
    • Can reduce sensitivity while you’re doing it
    • The first generation female condom (FC1) can be squeaky sounding (but the newer version, FC2, shouldn’t be)
  • We’re here to get this method working better for you.

    And if it still doesn’t feel right, we’ve got ideas for other methods. Just remember: If you change methods, make sure you’re protected while you switch.

    I think it’s hard to insert.

    Inserting a female condom should get easier the more you do it and you should try practicing when it’s not the heat of the moment.

    Still not working?
    If it doesn’t get any easier to insert and you’re concerned about STIs, go with male condoms instead.

    If STI protection is not a concern for you right now, you might want to move toward contraception that doesn’t require you to insert anything. The IUD and the implant are both inserted in a health center.

    It gets stuck to my partner’s penis.

    Lube may be the answer here. Try using a bit of lube and see if he still gets stuck.

    Still not working?
    If he’s willing, switch to male condoms. They also protect you from STIs.

    If you aren’t concerned about STI protection with this partner—you’ve both been tested, right? Then consider switching to a method you don’t have to use in the moment. The ring, the patch, or the shot might be good choices for you.

    It’s squeaky sounding.

    Lube may be the answer here. Try using a bit of lube and see if it gets any quieter. The newer version of the female condom (FC2) should also be less squeaky, so try to get your hands on that version.

    Still not working?
    If he’s willing, switch to using male condoms, they’ll protect you from STIs just as well.

    If STIs aren’t something you’re concerned about right now, then consider switching to a method you don’t have to use in the moment. An IUD, the ring, the patch, or the shot might be good choices for you.

    My partner says he can feel the inside ring.

    If your partner can feel the inner ring, you may not have it pushed far enough into your vagina, so try pushing it in a little farther.

    Still not working?
    If he’s willing, switch to male condoms, they’ll protect you from STIs just as well.

    If you’re not worried about STIs with this partner, you might want to move toward a non-barrier method that your guy won’t be able to feel. The shot and the implant are both really effective and he won’t feel anything but you during sex.

Real Stories (English)

Sean, 33

Sean’s girlfriend had a reaction to regular male condoms, so she suggested they try the female condom. He couldn’t believe how big of a difference it made. Both of them feel more free during sex with the female condom and they like that putting it in is a little bit of foreplay. Sean also says that the female condom is almost like not using a condom at all because of the increased sensation.

Lindsay, 20

Since getting pregnant as a teen, Lindsay has tried a lot of birth control. She didn’t like the patch. Not into the ring. Wasn’t a fan of the pill or the shot. And found men to be unreliable with condoms. These days, fertility awareness methods are what work best for Lindsay. But she also likes to have sex during the fertile times of her cycle, so she needs a back up. Enter: the female condom. Whenever she’s fertile and about to have sex, Lindsay grabs a female condom and inserts it. Like the male condom, a female condom protects against STIs. But because it’s in her and not on him, it also helps her feel more control. And we’re all for that.

Anastasia, 21

The first time Anastasia used a female condom, she and her boyfriend were on the beach, under the stars. (Sigh.) She had been given some samples at a clinic just a few days before and decided this was the time to try them out. Anastasia had to open a few packs before figuring out exactly how they work (and because the first one got sand in it—youch!), but eventually she got the hang of it. Now she’s a pro at putting them in. And at taking them out without making a mess. (We can help you figure out how to use them, too, but it still might take a couple tries. Just be patient and stick with it. And maybe try them out when there’s no sand around!)

Source: Bedsider.org