- Female condoms are approximately 75%-82% effective in preventing pregnancy and STIs.
- Male condoms are more effective than female condoms
- DON’T use female condoms with a male condom.
The female condom is a lubricated sheath worn by the female inside of her vagina during sex. There are two types: the original FC1 is made of polyurethane, a type of plastic, but was replaced by the FC2, which is made of nitrile, a type of synthetic rubber that is latex-free. It is pre-lubricated and the only female condom that has been approved by the United States Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There are other condoms sold outside of the United States that are made of natural rubber latex (Cupid®, l’Amour® and Jeitosa®).
The female condom acts as a barrier to sperm and many sexually transmitted infections by completely lining the vagina. The female condom has a ring at each end. One ring, at the closed end of the sheath, lies inside the vagina. The other ring, at the open end of the sheath, lies outside the vagina after the female condom has been inserted. The female condom provides protection against pregnancy and some protection against STIs.
|Out of 100 women using a female condom|
|Typical use: 21 women become pregnant|
|Perfect use: 5 women become pregnant|
Where can I get the female condom?
You can get the FC2 female condom without a prescription in most pharmacies and grocery stores in the United States. An FC2 condom costs between $2.00 and $4.00 each however, you can also buy them in multiple packs of three or more.
What if I need more lubrication?
The female condom is already lubricated when you buy it, but if you need more lubrication, you can use a vaginal lubricant, such as K-Y Jelly, on the inside of the female condom or on the penis.
How effective is the female condom?
If women use the female condom every time they have sexual intercourse and follow instructions every time, it’s 95% effective. This means that if 100 women use the female condom all the time and always use it correctly, 5 women will become pregnant in a year.
Although it’s obvious that the female condom is most effective against pregnancy when it is used all the time and always used correctly, perfect use hardly ever happens. If women use the female condoms, but not perfectly, it’s 79% effective. This means that if 100 women use the female condom, 21 or more women will become pregnant in a year.
How do you use the female condom?
The female condom can be inserted well before penetration. Wash your hands first and find a comfortable position, perhaps squatting with knees apart or lying down with legs bent and knees apart. Hold the female condom so that the open end is hanging down. You may put lubricant on the outside of the closed side of the condom to help insert it smoothly. Squeeze the inner ring with your thumb and middle finger.
Insert the inner ring and pouch inside of your vaginal opening. With your index finger, push the inner ring with the pouch way up into your vagina, so that the inner ring is up past your pubic bone. You can feel your pubic bone by curving your finger towards your front when it is a couple of inches inside of your vagina. Be sure to go slowly and be patient. Make sure the female condom is not twisted at all. The outside ring of the female condom should lie against the outer lips of your vagina. About one inch of it should be outside of your body.
You need to guide the male’s penis into the female condom so that it doesn’t enter the vagina during sex. Once the penis enters the female condom inside your vagina, the vagina will expand and the condom will fit better.
After intercourse, the male does not need to withdraw immediately. To remove the female condom after intercourse, squeeze and twist the outer ring gently to keep the sperm inside the pouch. Pull the female condom out gently and throw it away in a waste container. Don’t flush it, and don’t reuse it!
What if the female condom slips out of place during intercourse?
Stop intercourse immediately! Take the female condom out carefully, so that the sperm stay inside the pouch. Use a new female condom if you continue having sexual intercourse. Add extra lubricant to the opening of the pouch or on the penis and then insert the new female condom. Contact your health care provider and discuss emergency contraception.
Are there any complaints about the female condom?
Some people complain that the female condom is noisy if not lubricated correctly, that it can bother the skin of the genitals, that it limits feeling during intercourse, and that the penis can slip out of the condom during vaginal and anal intercourse.
Can I use a male condom with the female condom?
No. You should never use a male condom at the same time that you are using a female condom!
Female condoms are safe and effective. You don’t need to get fitted for them and you can buy them without a prescription. The female condom is more effective in preventing the spread of STIs than the diaphragm birth control method. If you choose to use female condoms, it’s very important to use them according to the package directions EVERY time you have sex.