A-Z List | Accessible Info | Careers | Contact Us

revised Wednesday April 22 2009
healthy sexuality
Birth Control Methods

About Female Condoms

Things to Know Before Using Female Condoms

Female condoms are made of plastic (polyurethane), which is said to be slightly stronger than latex and hypo-allergenic (doesn’t cause allergic reactions).

Female condoms have a flexible ring at either end. One ring helps with insertion and holds the condom in place. The other larger ring covers the vulva and stops the condom from being pushed into the vagina during sex.


  • You can insert a female condom up to 8 hours before having sex.
  • Inserting a female condom can be tricky at first, but gets easier with practice.
  • Lubrication can help keep the condom in place and lessen noise during sex.
  • Adding a spermicide before or after insertion will further reduce the risk of pregnancy.

How to Use a Female Condom


What to Do

Step 1

  • Open the female condom package carefully by tearing the notch on the top of the package. Don’t open it with scissors or another sharp object.

Step 2

  • While holding the sheath at the closed end, grasp the flexible inner ring and squeeze it with your thumb and middle finger so it becomes long and narrow.

Step 3

  • Choose an insertion position that’s comfortable for you: squat, raise one leg, sit or lie down.

Step 4

  • Gently insert the inner ring of the condom into your vagina. You should feel the inner ring move into place.
Step 5
  • Place your index finger on the inside of the condom and push the inner ring up as far as it will go. Make sure the sheath isn’t twisted. The outer ring should stay on the outside of your vagina.
Step 6
  • Carefully guide your partner's penis into the sheath's opening with your hand to make sure that it enters properly. Make sure that his penis isn’t entering on the side between the sheath and the vaginal wall.
Step 7
  • After intercourse, remove the condom by twisting the outer ring and gently pulling the sheath out.


Used correctly and consistently, the effectiveness rate for the female condom is 79%.  This means that approximately 21 women out of every 100 who use the female condom for one year will become pregnant.*

*source: The Mayo Clinic


Advantages & Disadvantages



  • Prevents the spread of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and AIDS.
  • Protects the vagina and vulva.
  • No hormonal side effects.
  • Can be used by women with latex sensitivities.
  • Doesn’t affect future fertility.
  • Doesn’t require a prescription.
  • Small, easy to carry, and disposable.
  • Very noticeable during sex.
  • Sometimes hard to insert or use.
  • Doesn’t contain spermicide.
  • Can break or leak.
  • More expensive than male condoms.
  • Crackling noises during sex can be distracting.

Cautions & Things to Consider

Side Effects

  • Some females experience vaginal irritation or irritation of the vulva by the outer ring.
  • Some couples have experienced decrease sensation during sex.

*source: The Mayo Clinic

What to Say If Your Partner Doesn't Want You to Wear a Female Condom

If Your Partner Says...

Respond By Saying...

"It makes too much noise."

"Why don’t we use more lubricant…let me put some more on you." or

"Let’s put on some music… here’s a new song that I thought you might like."

"But we’ve been having sex without condoms" or

"I wouldn’t give you a disease"

"That doesn’t mean we can’t use them now." or

"I know you wouldn’t on purpose, but either of us could have an infection and not know it. Why take chances?"

"I’ve heard it doesn’t feel good."

"You’re right. Condoms do change the feeling for both of us a little, but it’s not that bad.  It gives us a chance to explore other parts of our bodies." or

"I’ve heard it increases pleasure for both of us… let’s try it." or

"Unlike a regular condom… you don’t have to pull-out right away after you cum."

"“But you’re on the pill."

"The pill works great for stopping pregnancy, but condoms protect us from infections we might not even know we have."

Ways to Reduce Irritation Caused by Latex

  • Put a non-latex (natural lambskin) condom either on top or under the latex condom, depending upon which partner is affected.
  • Use non-latex or polyurethane condoms.
  • Avoid spermicides containing Nonoxynol 9.

Getting the Right Fit

Condoms are generally 'one size fits all' for the most part, although there are some 'extra large' sizes to choose from. Trying different brands will help you find the one that’s most comfortable for you and your partner.


[ Birth Control Home ]

Health Topics A-Z | Information for Professionals | Information for Workplaces
| School Corner | Employment/Volunteer Opportunities | Clinics, Classes and Events | Resources & Factsheets | Translated Information | About Public Health | Contact Us | Public Health Home Page


Revised: Wednesday April 22 2009

Privacy Service Commitment

Smaller Text Larger Text