Condoms can protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and they can be used to prevent pregnancy.
The female condom is a tube of soft plastic (polyurethane) that has a closed end. Each end has a ring or rim. The ring at the closed end is inserted deep into the woman's vagina over the cervix, like a diaphragm, to hold the tube in place. The ring at the open end remains outside the opening of the vagina.
Female condom use doesn't require a prescription or a visit to a health professional. Condoms are sold in drugstores and family planning clinics.
If used perfectly, the method failure rate for the female condom is 5%, meaning that with perfect use, 5 women out of 100 will become pregnant in the first year of use. With typical use, 21 women in 100 will become pregnant in the first year of use.1 This is mostly caused by not using the condom every time with intercourse or by not following the directions for use.
The female condom provides some protection of the genital area around the opening to the vagina during intercourse. And it may reduce the risk of getting or transmitting diseases such as genital herpes or genital warts. Some studies suggest that female condoms are as effective as male condoms in preventing STIs.2
The female condom can be inserted up to 8 hours before sexual intercourse. It contains lubricant on the inside. It shouldn't be used with a male condom.
The female condom should be removed immediately after intercourse, while the woman is still lying down. The outside ring is twisted to close off the condom and hold the semen inside before the condom is removed.
A new condom should be used with each act of sexual intercourse.
The female condom:
If a condom tears, emergency contraception is available as an extra method of birth control.
- Trussell J (2007). Choosing a contraceptive: Efficacy, safety, and personal considerations. In RA Hatcher et al., eds., Contraceptive Technology, 19th ed., pp. 19–47. New York: Ardent Media.
- Minnis AM, Padian NS (2005). Effectiveness of female controlled barrier methods in preventing sexually transmitted infections and HIV: Current evidence and future research directions. Sexually Transmitted Infections, 81(3): 193–200.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Femi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology|
|Last Revised||May 3, 2012|
Last Revised: May 3, 2012
Author: Healthwise Staff
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