The male condom is not the only tool to help prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unintended pregnancy. The female condom, also called an internal condom, offers women the advantage of a form of contraception and STI prevention that she can control. Due to it’s outer ring, the female condom also offers better protection from herpes and HPV which can be spread from skin to skin contact.
What is it?
The female condom is a nitrile pouch that fits inside a woman’s vagina. It has a soft ring on each end. The outer, larger ring stays on the outside of the vagina and partly covers the labia (lips). The inner ring fits on the inside of the vagina, somewhat like a diaphragm, to hold the condom in place. The female condom can also be used in the rectum for anal sex.
The female condom should be inserted before the penis touches the vagina. It can be inserted anywhere from immediately before to up to 8 hours prior to intercourse–allowing time to plan ahead. Another advantage of the female condom—it stays in place whether or not a male partner maintains an erection.
How to Use It
To start, add lubricant to the outside of the condom. To insert the condom, squeeze the inner ring of the condom and put the inner ring and pouch inside the vagina.
With your finger, push the inner ring as far into the vagina as it will go. The outer ring stays outside the vagina. Guide the penis into the condom, taking care that the penis is inserted into the condom and doesn’t push the condom aside.
After intercourse, the condom should be removed before standing up. Twist the outside ring and pull the condom out gently, making sure not to spill the contents. Condoms should not be reused, so throw away the condom (but don’t flush it!)
The female condom can also be used for anal sex. You can either leave the inside ring in or take it out based on your preference. Put the condom over the penis or toy and slowly insert into the rectum. Remove the condom in the same way mentioned above.
Read more about this woman-centered option here.
Male vs. Female Condoms
Learn more about the differences between male and female condoms. Download the fact sheet to compare effectiveness, cost and availability, common errors that come with use, and benefits of each.