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Home > Health Library > Female Condoms
Condoms can protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and they can be used to prevent pregnancy.
The female condom is a tube of soft plastic (polyurethane) that has a closed end. Each end has a ring or rim. The ring at the closed end is inserted deep into the woman's vagina over the cervix, like a diaphragm, to hold the tube in place. The ring at the open end remains outside the opening of the vagina.
The female condom is a barrier method of birth control.
Female condom use doesn't require a prescription or a visit to a health professional. Condoms are sold in drugstores and family planning clinics.
If used perfectly, the method failure rate for the female condom is 5%, meaning that with perfect use, 5 women out of 100 will become pregnant in the first year of use. With typical use, 21 women out of 100 will become pregnant in the first year of use.footnote 1 This is mostly caused by not using the condom every time with intercourse or by not following the directions for use.
The female condom provides some protection of the genital area around the opening to the vagina during intercourse. And it may reduce the risk of getting or transmitting diseases such as genital herpes or genital warts. Some studies suggest that female condoms work as well as male condoms in preventing STIs.footnote 2
You can insert a female condom up to 8 hours before sexual intercourse. This condom contains lubricant on the inside. Use a new condom each time you have intercourse. Don't use a female condom with a male condom.
The female condom:
If a condom tears, emergency contraception is available as an extra method of birth control.
Trussell J, Guthrie KA (2011). Choosing a contraceptive: Efficacy, safety, and personal considerations. In RA Hatcher et al., eds., Contraceptive Technology, 20th ed., pp. 45–74. Atlanta: Ardent Media.
Minnis AM, Padian NS (2005). Effectiveness of female controlled barrier methods in preventing sexually transmitted infections and HIV: Current evidence and future research directions. Sexually Transmitted Infections, 81(3): 193–200.
Current as of: May 28, 2019
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Sarah A. Marshall, MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineRebecca Sue Uranga, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Current as of: May 28, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Sarah A. Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Rebecca Sue Uranga, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
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