Female Condoms for Birth Control
The female condom is a barrier method of birth control. It 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 can be inserted up to 8 hours before sexual intercourse. It contains lubricant on the inside. It should not be used with a male condom. The female condom should be removed immediately after intercourse, while the woman is still lying down. The outside ring is twisted to close off the condom and hold the semen inside before the condom is removed. A new condom should be used with each act of sexual intercourse.
Female condom use does not require a visit to a health professional or a prescription. Condoms are sold in drugstores or family planning clinics.
Effectiveness in preventing pregnancy
If used perfectly, the method failure rate for the female condom is 5%, meaning that with perfect use, 5 women out of a 100 will become pregnant in the first year of use. With typical use, 21 women in 100 will become pregnant in the first year of use.1 This is mostly caused by not using the condom every time with intercourse or by not following the directions for use.
Effectiveness in preventing sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
The female condom provides some protection of the genital area around the opening to the vagina during intercourse and may reduce the risk of getting or transmitting diseases such as genital herpes or genital warts. Some studies suggest that female condoms are as effective as male condoms in preventing STDs.2
Advantages of female condoms
The female condom:
Disadvantages of female condoms
Failure rates for barrier methods are higher than for most other methods of birth control. Other disadvantages include the following:
If a condom tears, emergency contraception is available as an extra method of birth control.
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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