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Female condom

Woman holding female condom
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What is a female condom?

Female condoms are a barrier method of contraception which prevent pregnancy by stopping the sperm reaching the egg. Similar to male condoms that sheath the penis, they are worn inside the vagina. When used properly, female condoms will also prevent you from catching an STI (sexually transmitted infection).

How do you use a female condom?

Once you have carefully opened the packet, squeeze the smaller ring at the closed end of the condom and place this into your vagina. Once this is inserted, check that the large ring at the open end of the condom covers the outside of your vagina.

You may need to guide the penis inside the condom so that it does not accidently go between the condom and vagina. As the condom is loose fitting it may move during sexual intercourse, this is fine as long as the penis doesn’t touch your vagina.

To remove the female condom twist the outer ring to keep the semen inside, then pull the condom out gently. This will need to go into a bin after use and not a toilet.

Who can use a female condom?

Any woman can use a female condom, however if you’re not comfortable touching your genital area you may want to consider another birth control option. If you have had a baby, miscarriage or an abortion you can use a female condom. They come in a variety of sizes to suit your body.

Are female condoms safe to use?

Yes, as long as they are used properly and a new one is used every time that you have sex. Sometimes a female condom can be pushed too far into your vagina, although it is easy to remove if this happens. Female condoms are made from a soft plastic called nitrile or natural latex. This makes them hypoallergenic which means that they won’t irritate sensitive genital skin. However, if you do feel slight irritation when you use a female condom you may want to use lubricants to ease the friction. If you still feel irritation with continued use, stop using female condoms and consult your GP.

How effective are female condoms?

If you use a female condom correctly it can be 95% effective* in protecting you against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). A female condom needs to be placed inside the vagina before any sexual activity or before the penis touches your vagina. They can be inserted in advance or you can make it a part of foreplay.

Occasionally the penis can accidentally enter between the sides of the condom and your vagina, so make sure it is properly in place before sexual intercourse. Even though female condoms are made from tough materials than can still split and tear if they’re used incorrectly, or by long nails. If this happens, you may want to consider using another form of contraception or get the morning after pill

Can a female condom be used more than once?

No. You will need to use a new female condom every time you have sex, whether this is vaginal or anal, like you would with a male condom.

Where can I get female condoms?

Female condoms are not as readily available as male condoms; however you can get them from some GP surgeries, sexual health and contraception clinics. They are also available from pharmacies, supermarkets and online stores. Always make sure that the condoms have the European CE mark or British BSI Kitemark, as this means they have passed required safety standards.

Are there any side effects of using female condoms?

Female condoms do not have any side effects; however you may not be able to use them if you are allergic to latex. Check the pack to see what material the condom is made of before you use it.