Condoms: Female Condom or Internal Condoms

Key Facts
  • Internal (female) condoms are approximately 79%effective in preventing pregnancy and STIs.
  • External (male)condoms are more effective than internal (female) condoms
  • DON’T use internal condoms with an external
  • Internal (female) condoms can be used for both vaginal and anal sex.

 

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  • Young men's version of this guide
female condom
Female condom

The internal condom, also known as the “female condom,” is a lubricated sheath worn by the female inside of their vagina during sex. The FC2 is a type of internal condoms made of nitrile (a type of synthetic rubber). The FC2 is latex-free, so this is a good option if you or your partner has a latex allergy. The FC2 is pre-lubricated and is the only female condom that has been approved for vaginal sex by the United States Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These condoms have been used by people, for vaginal sex and anal sex. There are other condoms sold outside of the United States that are made of natural rubber latex (Cupid®, l’Amour® and Jeitosa®).

The internal (female) condom acts as a barrier to sperm and many sexually transmitted infections by completely lining the vagina. The internal condom has a ring at each end. The inner ring, at the closed end of the sheath, lies inside the vagina. The outer ring, at the open end of the sheath, lies outside the vagina after the internal condom has been inserted. The internal condom provides protection against pregnancy and some protection against STIs.

Of note, we recognize that people of all genders get pregnant and use female/internal condoms. In this guide, we use the term “female” to describe people who are born with uteruses/can get pregnant and “male” to describe people who have penises.

Where can I get the internal (female) condom?

You can get the FC2 internal condom without a prescription in most pharmacies and grocery stores in the United States. You can also buy the FC2 online or ask for it at family planning centers. 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 internal (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 internal condom or on the penis.

How effective is the female (internal) condom?

If women use the internal (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 internal condom all the time and always use it correctly, 5 women will become pregnant in a year.

Although it’s obvious that the internal 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 internal condoms, but not perfectly, it’s 79% effective. This means that if 100 women use the internal condom, 21 or more women will become pregnant in a year

You can use the internal condom with other forms of birth control including the pill, patch, implant, and IUD, to further decrease chances of getting pregnant. It is important never to use the internal condom with an external condom as it increases risk of both breaking.

When wearing the internal condom in the vagina, it protects against HIV and other STDs just as effectively as the external (male) condom. The internal condom is more effective at protecting against STIs than the diaphragm (another barrier method).

How do you use the internal (female) condom?

You can plan ahead and insert the internal (female) condom before foreplay and penetration, so you don’t have to stop when you’re ready to have sex.

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 internal 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 internal 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 internal condom so that it doesn’t enter the vagina during sex. Once the penis enters the internal 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 internal condom after intercourse, squeeze and twist the outer ring gently to keep the sperm inside the pouch. Pull the internal condom out gently and throw it away in a waste container. Don’t flush it, and don’t reuse it!

To use the internal condom for anal sex, you may want to remove the inner ring of the condom before inserting it into your anus with your finger. The outer ring should be left outside of your body. It is OK to leave in the inner ring for insertion

What if the internal (female) condom slips out of place during intercourse?

Stop intercourse immediately! Take the internal condom out carefully, so that the sperm stay inside the pouch. Use a new internal 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 internal condom. Contact your health care provider and discuss emergency contraception.

Are there any complaints about the internal (female) condom?

Some people complain that the internal (female) condom can bother the skin of the genitals (adding more lubricant can help with this), that it limits feeling during intercourse, and that the penis can slip out of the condom during sex.

On the other hand, some men say the internal condom is more comfortable because it isn’t as tight on their penis as external (male) condom. Additionally the inner ring may stimulate the penis and the outer ring can stimulate the clitoris, increasing pleasure during sex. Some people also like that they can play an active role in protecting themselves and their partners by using the internal (female) condom during sex.

Can I use a male condom with the internal (female) condom?

No. You should never use an external (male) condom at the same time that you are using an internal condom! This increases the risk that they will break, putting you at risk of pregnancy and STIs.

Internal condoms are safe and effective. You don’t need to get fitted for them and you can buy them without a prescription. If you choose to use internal condoms, it’s very important to use them according to the package directions EVERY time you have sex.