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Female Condom Fact Sheet

How effective are female condoms?

Of 100 women who use this method each year, about 21 may get pregnant.

Advantages of the female condom

  • Female condoms are available over the counter.

  • Female condoms are safe and effective to use.

  • You may insert female condoms up to eight hours before having sex.

  • Female condoms are a good choice if you do not use a male condom.

  • Female condoms may provide some protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) during vaginal sex.

How do I get it?

You do not need a prescription or an ID to buy female condoms. You can find female condoms at drug stores, family planning clinics, and many grocery stores.

To search for a family planning center near you, visit www.hhs.gov/opa.

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Quick Facts

Effectiveness in Preventing Pregnancy

  • Of 100 women who use this method each year, about 21 may get pregnant.

Use

  • Pinch the inner ring and place the inner ring and pouch inside vagina before any sexual contact occurs. It may be inserted up to eight hours before having sex.
  • Twist the outer ring and remove carefully after sex.
  • Use a new female condom each time you have sex.
  • Use the female condom for vaginal sex.
  • Use a male condom for anal sex.
  • Do not use a male and a female condom at the same time for vaginal sex.

STI Protection

  • May provide some protection against STIs—including HIV—with vaginal sex, but more research is needed. It is not as effective as the male latex condom.

Office Visit Required

  • No

What is the female condom?

The female condom is a thin, lubricated polyurethane pouch that fits inside the vagina and partly covers the vulva. The female condom prevents sperm from meeting and fertilizing an egg.

 

How do I use it?

The condom is a pouch with a flexible, soft ring on each end; one end fits inside the vagina to keep the female condom in place and the other end stays outside the vagina.

  • You can insert a female condom up to eight hours before you have sex.
  • Squeeze the inner ring of the condom. Put the inner ring and pouch inside the vagina.
  • After sex, twist the outer ring and carefully remove the condom.
  • Use a new female condom each time you have sex.
  • Don’t use a female and male condom at the same time, as this may cause both condoms to break or tear.
  • Be sure to use lubricant with the female condom to keep it from making noise during sex.

 

 

Drawbacks of the female condom

  • It isn’t known exactly how well female condoms may protect against STIs.
  • Some people experience irritation or allergic reactions with female condoms.
  • Female condoms are usually more expensive than male condoms.
  • Female condoms have not been officially approved for anal sex.

 

Sources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Food and Drug Administration

Office on Women's Health