Female Condom

1 What is a Female Condom?

The female condom is a birth control (contraceptive) device with the main purpose of acting as a barrier to prevent sperm from entering the uterus. This device protects against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

The female condom is a soft loose-fitting pouch that has a ring on each end. One of the rings is inserted into the vagina to anchor the female condom while the other ring (at the open end of the condom) remains outside the vagina. The outer ring also helps to keep the condom in place and is also used for removal.

Only two female condoms, the FC1 female condom and its replacement, the FC2 female condom have Food and Drug Administration approval in the United States. The FC1 female condom made using plastic (polyurethane), is no longer under production. The FC2 female condom is made of synthetic latex and is pre-lubricated with a silicone-based lubricant.

2 Reasons for Procedure

The main reason for the female condom is the prevention of pregnancy.

Among various benefits, the female condom:

  • Is immediately effective.
  • Offers protection from STIs.
  • Is available without a prescription or special fitting.
  • Can be inserted up to eight hours prior to sex.
  • Rarely causes allergic reactions and has minimal risk of side effects.
  • Does not require a partner's cooperation or an erect penis as the male condom does.
  • Unlike latex, the material used to make male condoms, female condoms are made of polyurethane and synthetic latex which are not affected by dampness or changes in temperature.
  • In addition, some women find that the female condom's external ring stimulates the clitoris.

The female condom is not for everyone.

You may want to consider another type of birth control method if you:

  • Are allergic to polyurethane or synthetic latex.
  • Are at a high risk of pregnancy, you are younger than 30, you have sex three or more times a week.
  • You have had a previous contraceptive failure with vaginal barrier methods, or you are not likely to consistently use the female condom.
  • Are uncomfortable with the insertion process.
  • Have vaginal abnormalities that interfere with the fit, placement or retention of the female condom.

3 Potential Risks

Along with using female condom comes potential risks.

It has been estimated that 21 out of 100 women will become pregnant in a year of typical use of female condoms, possibly because they do not use condoms every time they have sex.

The female condom has a higher failure rate than the male condom. Condom failure means that it is possible to contract sexually transmitted infections or become pregnant.

The female condom cannot protect you in the following cases:

  • If the condom breaks.
  • If the condom slips out of the vagina.
  • If the penis slips between the vagina and outer surface of the condom.
  • The external ring of the condom gets pushed into the vagina during sex.

The female condom may also cause a degree of discomfort during insertion, a burning sensation, itching or a rash.

4 Preparing for your Procedure

In preparing for your female condom, you must follow your doctor’s orders. This can include:

  • Make sure you read the instructions carefully prior to using the female condom.
  • If the condom is past its expiration date or you notice any signs of damage, such as small tears or holes, discard the condom and choose a better one.
  • Practice inserting the female condom before the first time using it for sex. In addition, you must be attentive to when you first use the female condom to make sure it stay in place during sex.
  • Never reuse a female condom.
  • Do not use the female condom at the same time as a male condom. They might stick to each other, might result in one or both condoms to break.
  • The female condom is not recommended for anal sex.

5 What to Expect

Here you can find out what to expect using a female condom.

In order to use the female condom:

  • Open the package carefully. Do not use your teeth or fingernails, which could tear the condom.
  • Consider using additional lubrication. You can apply additional water-based or oil-based lubricant to the condom to make it easier to insert and to minimize noise during sex.
  • Insert the female condom. Squeeze the ring at the closed end of the pouch with your middle finger and thumb and insert it into your vagina like a tampon. Place your index finger inside the condom and push the ring up as far as it can go.
  • Do not allow the condom to twist. Make sure the outer ring remains outside your vagina, extending about one inch (or about 2.5 centimeters) beyond the labia. You can place the female condom inside your vagina up to eight hours before sex.
  • Guide the penis into the female condom. You have to make sure that the penis does not slip between the vagina and outer surface of the female condom. During sex, make sure the outer ring of the condom does not get pushed into the vagina.
  • After sex, remove the female condom. Twist the outer ring so that the semen is contained in the condom and gently pull the condom out of your vagina. Dispose of the female condom in the trash and not the toilet.

6 Procedure Results

If you do not understand your female condom results, consult with your doctor.

You are capable of having safer sex which can be a good preventive measure against unplanned pregnancy and contraction of sexually transmitted infections.

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