Yup, there are condoms for women.
As things currently stand, the female condom sees less action than the male condom—probably because female condoms are not as easy to find, and we just don’t speak as much about them.
So time to shed light on the matter. Here’s what you need to know.
In this article: 📝
- What are condoms for women?
- How do condoms for women work?
- How to use condoms for women
- What are the advantages of female condoms?
- How do female condoms feel?
- What are the disadvantages of female condoms?
- How effective are internal condoms?
- How do you get internal condoms?
- Condoms for women: the final wrap
What are condoms for women?
Condoms for women—often called female condoms or internal condoms—are a lesser-known form of contraception.
The term internal condoms is preferable because they aren’t only used by women but by people of all genders for vaginal and anal sex.
That’s why the FDA has rebranded the “female condom” as single-use internal condoms.
How do condoms for women work?
Like “male condoms” or external condoms, internal condoms are a barrier method of contraception.
As the name suggests, they act as a barrier, helping to prevent pregnancy by stopping sperm from reaching an awaiting egg.
But instead of this type of condom being worn on a penis, it’s worn inside the vagina or anus.
How to use condoms for women
Internal condoms are pretty easy to use, but they do take some getting used to. We’ll take you through the steps.
- Take the condom out of its wrapper. Be careful that it doesn’t tear before it gets its moment to shine. Gently unroll it. There is already lubricant on the condom, but you might want a bit more. If you would like, you can add some extra to the outside of the closed end.
- Pinch the sides of the inner closed-end ring together. Get comfortable, and then insert it just like a tampon. Push the closed-end ring as far into your vagina as it’ll go, using your finger to try and reach your cervix.
- Pull your finger out and let the outer (open) ring rest just outside your vagina. It might look a little funny, but that extra little bit might just have some benefits of its own (more on this later).
And that’s it. As simple as 1, 2, 3. Well, just about.
Getting the perfect fit takes a bit of practice, but so does everything, right?
Then, when it comes time to remove it, gently twist the outer ring, pull it out of your vagina, and throw it away in the trash.
And if you want to use an internal condom for anal sex, you follow the same steps, but this time you’re inserting it into your anus.
To make sure internal condoms work as they should, here are some quick guidelines:
- Like external condoms, internal condoms can’t be reused.
- You should never use an external condom with an internal one, as this can cause tearing. (And nobody wants that, right!)
- It’s always a good idea to check the expiry date and read the condom package insert.
What are the advantages of female condoms?
One of the main reasons internal condoms get the thumbs up is that, instead of relying on your partner to keep things safe, you can have more control over preventing unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
But internal condoms are great for other reasons too.
One major perk is that they can be inserted up to eight hours before sex.
Bonus if you find that stopping to put on a condom in the heat of the moment can dampen the mood.
Plus, you don’t have to wait for your partner to get an erection before slipping a condom on.
Or, if you prefer, you can insert an internal condom as part of foreplay.
You could even get your partner to put it in for you (just make sure they get it in properly).
How do female condoms feel?
For some people, internal condoms might also provide extra pleasure.
The outer ring of the female condom could provide stimulation for the clitoris—this is great news if you struggle to climax with penetrative sex.
The clitoris consists of a complex network of erectile tissue, which can make you feel more sexually aroused and heighten sexual tension.
And you both might prefer the sensation more than using external condoms.
Everyone’s different, so this may require a little trial and error to see what works best for you.
Also, internal condoms are not made of latex.
The outer ring is made of nitrile, which is a type of soft plastic, and the inner ring is made from polyurethane.
This means you can use them even if you’re allergic to latex. They can also be used with all types of lubricants.
What are the disadvantages of female condoms?
Like everything, female condoms aren’t for everyone.
We all have our preferences, and some people don’t find sex as pleasurable when using a female condom.
Also, because they’re not as well-known as the external condom, getting your hands on them can be harder—and more expensive if you are not insured.
Another downside is that you have to practice a bit to be able to get it in properly.
(Don’t worry—like everything, it will get easier the more you do it. And hot tip: it may be easier to insert an internal condom when your pelvic area is relaxed.)
Some people complain that female condoms can make noises during sex.
This is more common when the condom hasn’t had enough time to stick to the vagina walls.
Inserting it early and adding more lube might help.
How effective are internal condoms?
When used correctly, internal condoms are 95% effective at preventing unintended pregnancy.
(External condoms used correctly have a protection rate of around 98%, so pretty close.)
But when not used correctly, that rate drops to 79% effective.
Things like putting the condom too far inside or the penis accidentally going between the condom and the vagina can lower its efficiency.
And there’s also the potential risk of damaging the condom that comes with long nails. 💅
The best way to keep things as safe as possible is to practice, practice, practice.
(Should be fun, right?)
Also, spermicide can help make things even safer.
Spermicide is a type of birth control that can be put into the vagina before sex to destroy sperm and can be safely used with condoms of all types.
How do you get internal condoms?
Although not as readily available as external condoms, they are pretty easy to come by.
The only brand of FDA-approved internal condoms in the U.S. is the FC2 Female Condom®.
You can get these directly from the FC2 website.
Some medical clinics, non-profit organizations, and health departments also distribute them.
Or you can get them on prescription from some drug stores.
If you’re based in the UK, you can access them for free from most contraception clinics, genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics, GP surgeries, and young people’s services.
Condoms for women: the final wrap
So, are internal condoms the way to go?
Because they offer us more control over our sexual health, they’re a great addition to our birth control options.
Ultimately, it’s important to choose a contraceptive method that makes you feel safe and suits you and your lifestyle.
And what works for you at one point in your life may not be what you choose forever.
If you want to brainstorm your birth control options, check in with your Peanut community or chat with your healthcare provider.
You don’t have to do this alone.