A female condom is a barrier method of contraception. It is a soft pouch that looks like a male condom held upside down. It has flexible rings on each end. One smaller ring is placed in the closed end of the condom that goes deep inside the vagina. The bigger ring is placed on the open end that hangs just outside the vagina.
Female condoms are not tight on the penis, and they don’t inhibit or dull sensation like male condoms. Hence, it is believed that they feel more natural compared to wearing male condoms. Some female condom products are made of heat-transmitting materials, which are more pleasurable as compared to latex condoms.
Most female condoms are made up of latex-free (synthetic) rubber known as nitrile. The FC2 or Female Condom is approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) and is pre-lubricated with a silicone-based lubricant.
Why do you need female condoms?
Female condoms come with some benefits that are similar to male condoms. These include
- Prevention of pregnancy
- Reduced risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- An immediate and temporary form of contraception
- Available without a prescription
- Can be placed up to eight hours before sex
- No chance of allergy or almost minimal to no side effects
- Does not require the penis to be erect
- Not affected by moisture or changes in temperature
- The external ring can help stimulate the clitoris
- Can be used during anal sex
When can you not use female condoms?
Though female condoms can be used by most women, they may not be the right choice for contraception for you if
- You are allergic to synthetic latex.
- You have vaginal conditions that may not allow for proper placement of the female condom.
- You are not comfortable with inserting anything like a female condom into your vagina.
- You have a history of previous contraceptive failure with vaginal barrier methods.
- You are less likely to use female condoms every time you have sex.
How to insert female condoms
Female condom insertion is a simple technique. You first need to squeeze the ring at the closed end of the condom with your thumb and middle finger. Insert your index finger through the open end of the condom and push the ring as far as you can up into the vagina. The outer ring should be outside the vagina and an inch away from the labia.
Be aware of the following precautions when using a female condom.
- Remove the condom from the pack by tearing the package open carefully with your fingers and not with your fingernails or teeth.
- Use extra lube for smooth insertion.
- Guide the penis into the condom up into the vagina.
- Remove the condom from the vagina gently to avoid tearing or spilling semen into the vagina.
How effective are female condoms?
Female condoms are less effective than male condoms in keeping you from getting pregnant or contracting an STD. Female condoms are 79 percent effective in preventing pregnancy as compared to male condoms that are 87 percent effective. This means 21 out of 100 women can get pregnant in a year even after using female condoms whereas only 13 out of 100 women get pregnant when male condoms are used. The higher failure rate of female condoms could be because females may not be using them every time they have sex.
The female condom may not offer you enough protection if
- The penis goes in between the vagina and the outer surface of the condom.
- The condom is defective (has holes or tears).
- The condom tears during sex.
- The condom slips out of the vagina.
- The outer ring of the condom gets pushed into the vagina during sex.
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