The female condom is a barrier method made of polyurethane that helps protect against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection. Similar in appearance to a male condom, a female condom is inserted into the woman’s vagina to block sperm from entering the cervix.
WHAT IS IT?
The female condom is a female-initiated barrier method that is inserted by a woman prior to intercourse to help prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection. Made of a polyurethane, the female condom is thin, odorless, stronger than latex and is lubricated. It also conducts heat for increased sensitivity. The female condom is 6.5 inches long and loosely lines the walls of the vagina. A flexible ring is located at each end of the sheath. The inner ring at the closed end is used to insert the female condom and slides in place behind the pubic bone. The outer ring at the open end remains outside the vagina during intercourse and partially covers the vulva. After intercourse, the female condom is removed and discarded.
WHERE DO I GET IT?
The female condom is sold without a prescription and available in most drugstores. They are usually sold near the male condoms.
HOW DO I USE IT?
The first step is to remove the condom from the packaging, being careful not to tear the condom with fingernails. Squeeze the inner ring together between the thumb and forefinger so that is becomes long and narrow. After choosing a position that is comfortable for insertion (standing, squatting, or laying down), gently insert the inner ring into the vagina and guide it upward. Place the index finger into the female condom, pushing the condom upward as far as it will go, being careful not to twist it. The outer ring should remain on the outside of the body. When having intercourse, make sure the penis has entered the opening properly, not on the side between the sheath and the vagina. After intercourse, gently twist the outside ring, and pull the condom out. Throw the condom in the garbage, not in a toilet. A female condom should never be used with a male condom; the friction will cause breakage.
WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS?
The female condom does not cause any serious side effects, as it will not alter the environment in the vagina or cause skin irritation. Since the female condom is made of polyurethane, it will not cause irritation or an allergic reaction for those sensitive to latex.
HOW WELL DOES IT WORK?
When used correctly and consistently, the female condom is close to 95% effective in preventing pregnancy. And since it covers the outside genitalia as well as the inside of the vagina, the female condom will provide significant protection against many sexually transmitted infections. However, since it is still new and many people still have trouble using it correctly, the typical effectiveness rate is around 79%.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF THE METHOD?
Some advantages of the female condom include:
o Sold without a prescription at many locations
o Effective for those with latex sensitivity
o Does not require a male partner
o Protects the external genitalia
o Does not require an erect penis, unlike a male condom
o Does not need to be removed immediately after ejaculation
o Still the only female-controlled option for STI protection
o Polyurethane heats up to body temperature for increased sensitivity
o Can be inserted several hours before intercourse
Some disadvantages of the female condom include:
o Can be difficult to insert
o Often perceived as unattractive on the outside of the body
o Not available at all locations that sell condoms
o More expensive than a male condom
o Can be used only once
o Removal can be messy
o Not as effective as a male condom
o Requires a strong comfort level with a person’s own body
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
Female condoms typically are sold in packages of five and are sold under the name “Reality Female Condom.” Cost for one package ranges from $12-$15.