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Female Condoms: A Complete Guide

Condoms for males and females appear different but they both work in a similar manner—they form a barrier and block semen and other male fluids to enter the uterus. A female condom fits inside your vagina and helps in preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). But it shouldn’t be used alongside a male condom as they may stick together and tear or get out of place.

woman is holding a female condom

What are female condoms?

The female condom is a contraceptive (birth control) device that forms a barrier and blocks the entry of sperms into the uterus. It helps in protecting against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and pregnancy. A female condom is a soft, long pouch, which fits loosely in the vagina. It has a flexible ring on both of its ends that hold the condom in place. One of these rings is inserted in the vagina. The outer ring remains at the vaginal opening and is used for removing the condom. 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved only two types of female condoms— the FC1 and the FC2 in the USA. The female condom FC1 is made of polyurethane (plastic) and is no longer produced. The replacement of FC1, FC2 is made of synthetic latex and it is safe for people who are allergic to natural rubber latex. It comes lubricated with a lubricant that is silicone-based. 

How do female condoms work?

Female condoms are worn inside your vagina and they are a barrier method of birth control or contraception. This implies that they prevent the occurrence of pregnancy by not allowing the sperm from getting in contact with an egg. Female condoms line the vaginal walls and collect semen and other ejaculated fluids from the penis of a male. 

You may put a female condom into your vagina any time (up to 8 hours) before having sex, but ensure that the penis of your partner doesn’t get into contact with your vagina before you have placed the condom. This is due to the fact that semen may get out of the penis of a man even before he had an orgasm. 

Woman with a female condom over her hand

How to use female condoms

To use female condoms, follow these instructions:

  • Open the condom package and remove it carefully. Take care to not tear it. Don’t use your fingernails or teeth to open the package. 
  • Squeeze the ring (smaller) at the closed end of the female condom and insert it in your vagina using the thumb and middle finger. Put the index finger inside the condom and push the ring up in the vagina as far as it may go. 
  • Ensure that the larger ring present at the open end of the female condom remains at the vaginal opening and covers the area around it. 
  • You may put the female condom into the vagina up to eight hours before having sex. 
  • While having sex, ensure that the penis of your partner inserts inside the condom and doesn’t slip between the female condom and the vagina. Also, make sure that during sex the outer ring of the female condom isn’t pushed inside your vagina. 
  • After having sex, remove the condom immediately. Twist the large outer ring to prevent the leakage of semen and gently pull the female condom out of the vagina. 
  • Throw the female condom in the trash and not in a toilet. 
  • Female condoms are pre-lubricated so that they are easier to use. But you may use additional water-based lubricant so that their insertion is easier. 

Who may use female condoms?

Most women may use female condoms as a method of birth control safely. You may also use a female condom after giving birth to a baby, abortion or miscarriage. 

However, female condoms aren’t suitable for everyone. You may consider any other birth control method than female condoms if you:

  • Have an allergy to synthetic latex.
  • Are at high risk of getting pregnant—your age is less than 30 years, you have sexual intercourse more than three times in a week, you have a history of contraceptive failure using vaginal barrier methods or you aren’t likely to use female condoms consistently. 
  • Don’t feel comfortable with the technique of insertion.
  • Suffer from abnormalities of the vagina, which interfere with the placement, retention or fit of a female condom.
doctor holding an open female condom

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using female Condoms?

  • The advantages of using female condoms are as follows:
  • They are effective immediately.
  • They help in protecting both the partners from STDs.
  • They are an effective method to prevent pregnancy when used properly.
  • They are a type of contraceptive, which you need to use only while having sex.
  • You may insert them up to eight hours before having sex.
  • They have minimal risk of adverse effects.
  • They aren’t affected by changes in temperature or dampness.
  • Some females find that the external ring of the female condom stimulates their clitoris. 

The disadvantages of using female condoms are as follows:

  • Some couples find inserting a condom an interruption to sex. So, to avoid this problem, insert the condom in advance or make this as a part of the foreplay. 
  • Though female condoms are usually very strong, if not used properly, they may tear or split. 
  • They may be more expensive than male condoms and aren’t available as widely as the latter. 
  • They may be slightly less successful at preventing STDs and pregnancy in comparison to male condoms. 

Where to buy female condoms?

It may be sometimes a little difficult to find female condoms than male condoms. The female condoms, which are approved by the FDA and are available in the USA, are the FC2 female condoms. Where to buy female condoms? They are available through community health-based organizations including Planned Parenthood and health clinics. You may also buy them online at the FC2 website. You may also get them at drugstores by prescription. 

Female condoms vs. male condoms: which are better?

When used correctly, both female and male condoms are very effective in preventing pregnancy. But female condoms have a higher rate of failure than male condoms. Condom failure implies that it’s possible to get pregnant or contract STDs. According to estimates, male condoms are 98 percent effective in preventing unwanted pregnancy whereas female condoms are 95 percent effective If use them correctly. Hence, male condoms are considered more effective in comparison to female condoms when it comes to preventing pregnancy. A female condom may not provide protection if:

  • it breaks
  • it slips out of your vagina
  • its outer ring gets pushed inside the vagina while having sex
  • the penis of your partner slips between the side of the vagina and the condom

You can’t use male and female condoms together. But you may use other contraceptives including oral birth control pill along with a male or female condom. 

The female condom is a contraceptive device that forms a barrier to block the entry of sperms into your uterus. In this way, it may help in protecting against STDs and pregnancy. Female condoms are a barrier method of birth control and you have to wear them inside your vagina. They line the vaginal wall and collect semen and other fluids. Most women may use them as a method of birth control safely. The FDA has approved the FC2 female condoms and they are available in the USA. Female condoms have a slightly higher rate of failure in comparison to male condoms when it comes to preventing pregnancy or contracting STDs.  

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/contraception/female-condoms/
https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/female-condom/about/pac-20394129
https://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/what-are-female-condoms#1
https://www.cdc.gov/condomeffectiveness/Female-condom-use.html
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/309483.php

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