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Female Condom

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 clinic near you use our Clinic Locator.

Download Female Condom Fact Sheet

Quick Facts


Effectiveness in Preventing Pregnancy

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


  • 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.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Food and Drug Administration

Office on Women's Health

Content created by Office of Population Affairs
Content last reviewed on August 17, 2016