Almost everyone knows about the male condom and its advantages. Did you know that there are also condoms specially designed for women?
What is the female condom?
The male condom is a common contraceptive method, but what about its female equivalent? Although relatively unknown, the female condom, also called internal condom, provides just as much protection against unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections as the male condom. It is an appealing choice for women who wish to use a contraceptive method that they can manage themselves.
The female condom is a flexible, transparent, yet resistant sheath that lines the walls of the vagina. It is equipped with an internal ring at the closed end and an external ring at the open end. The internal ring is inserted inside the vagina all the way up to the cervix, while the external ring stays outside the vagina, covering the vulva.
The female condom is made of polyurethane, not latex like most male condoms. Therefore, it is more resistant than a latex condom, yet soft to the touch. The female condom can be inserted up to 8 hours before sexual intercourse and can also be used in the anus for protection during anal sex.
What are the benefits and inconveniences?
The female condom offers a number of advantages to its users:
- the same protection as a male condom against unwanted pregnancies and most STIs
- the possibility to put it in place before sexual intercourse (better control on the contraceptive method)
- the possibility to use oil-based lubricants (which is not the case for latex condoms)
- interesting option for someone with a latex allergy
- a comfortable alternative for most users
Although the female condom is an interesting choice, it takes a little practise to put it in place. It is recommended that women try it out alone first before using it with a partner, as several attempts may be needed to acclimatize to it. Once its use has been mastered, the female condom often provides the most sensitivity during sexual intercourse, since it is thinner than the male condom.
The main disadvantage of the female condom is the price, which is higher than the male condom. Additionally, some users complain about the noise it makes during penetration or about discomfort caused by the external ring.
Before choosing to use a female condom, it is important to weigh the advantages and the inconveniences to ensure that it is the best option for you. As a matter of fact, the best contraceptive method is the one that you will use adequately and consistently. In order to choose the contraceptive method that is best-suited to you and your partner, ask your pharmacist for advice!
What are the modalities of use?
If you would like to try out a female condom, the following tips will help you to use it effectively, safely and with ease.
- Check the expiry date. Don’t use the condom passed this date.
- Apply a lubricant inside and outside the condom.
- Squeeze the interior ring between the thumb and index finger and gently insert it as far into the vagina as possible.
- Place the index finger inside the condom and push the interior ring up to the end. The exterior ring must remain outside of the vagina and over the outer lip of the vagina.
- During penetration, hold the external ring to ensure that the condom remains in place.
- After penetration and before getting up, close the condom by twisting the external ring and remove it from the vagina.
- Throw it into the trash and not in the toilet.
It is important to never use a male condom at the same time as a female condom. Contrary to what one might think, this does not increase efficacy, but instead increases the risk of tearing due to friction.
With a little practise, you will learn to use the female condom properly and be able to benefit from all of its advantages. Owing to the female condom, you will be able to take charge of your contraception!
Speak to your pharmacist for additional information about female condoms and other contraceptive methods.