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Female Condoms

Female Condoms

What is contraception?

Contraception refers the range of methods used to prevent pregnancy.   Barrier methods of contraception include condoms and female condoms which protect against some Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and pregnancy. 

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Key facts

  • Female condoms are a form of contraception that protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and pregnancy.
  • If used consistently, every time you have sex, they are 95% effective at protecting against pregnancy. 
  • A female condom needs to be placed inside the vagina before there is any contact between the vagina and penis
  • You can use internal/female condoms in addition to other methods of contraception 
  • If the condom breaks or you are worried you should find out more about emergency contraception, and also getting an STI test 
  • Do not use a female condom more than once. If you have sex again, use a new female condom.

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How to use a female condom

Female condoms line the vagina and protect against pregnancy by stopping sperm contained in semen, coming in to contact with the vagina.  As condoms stop sexual fluids being transferred between partners they are also the only method of contraception that protects against STIs.

Female condoms have lubrication on them, but some people like to use additional lubrication. Because female condoms are made from polyurethane, you can use any lubrication with them including: body oils, creams, lotions or petroleum jelly (unlike latex condoms as these substances destroy the latex).

  • Take the female condom out of the packet, taking care not to tear the condom – do not open the packet with your teeth. 
  • Squeeze the smaller ring at the closed end of the condom and insert it into the vagina. 
  • Make sure that the large ring at the open end of the female condom covers the area around the vaginal opening. 
  • Make sure the penis enters into the female condom, not between the condom and the side of the vagina. 
  • Remove the female condom immediately after sex by gently pulling it out – you can twist the large ring to prevent semen leaking out. 
  • Throw the condom away in a bin, not down the toilet.

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Advantages and disadvantages of female condoms

It is important to consider which form of contraception is right for you and your partner. Take care to use condoms correctly, and consider using other forms of contraception for extra protection.

Advantages

  • By preventing the exchange of bodily fluids (semen and vaginal fluid), female condoms help to protect against many STIs, including HIV. 
  • When used correctly and consistently, condoms are a reliable method of preventing pregnancy. 
  • You only need to use them when you have sex – they do not need advance preparation and are suitable for unplanned sex. 
  • In most cases, there are no medical side effects from using condoms.  
  • Female condoms can be inserted up to eight hours before sex, encouraging women to share the responsibility for using condoms with their partner. 

Disadvantages

  • Some couples find that putting a condom in can interrupt sex – to get around this, try making using a condom part of Foreplay or insert the female condom in advance. 
  • Condoms are very strong, but may split or tear if not used properly. 
  • Female condoms are not as widely available as male condoms and are more expensive to buy. 

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Can anything make condoms less effective?

Sperm can sometimes get into the vagina during sex, even when using a condom. This may happen if:

  • the penis touches the area around the vagina before a condom is put in  
  • the female condom gets pushed too far into the vagina 
  • the man’s penis enters the vagina outside the female condom by mistake 
  • the condom gets damaged by sharp fingernails or jewellery 

Although female condoms (when used correctly) offer reliable protection against pregnancy, using an additional method of contraception will protect you against pregnancy if the female condom fails. If a female condom slips or fails, you can use emergency contraception to help to prevent pregnancy. This is for emergencies only, and shouldn't be used as a regular form of contraception.

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The Passionate about Sexual Health (PaSH) Partnership) is a collaboration between BHA for Equality, George House Trust and the LGBT Foundation. The PaSH Partnership will deliver a comprehensive programme of interventions to meet the changing needs of people newly diagnosed with HIV, living longer term with HIV or at greatest risk of acquiring HIV.

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