The female condom is a barrier birth control option, meaning it physically blocks the sperm from reaching the egg. Barrier methods, like the female condom, also reduce the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Female condoms are typically made from either latex or polyurethane and go inside the vagina during sexual intercourse.
Condoms for women feature a ring at either end. The closed end that goes inside the vagina has a smaller, flexible ring that holds the condom inside. The ring on the open end stays outside of the vagina so the condom isn’t completely pushed inside. The pouch-like condom holds in the semen so it cannot fertilize the egg. The condom also prevents contact with the penis that might lead to a sexually transmitted disease.
Female condoms are effective when used correctly, but incorrect use significantly decreases the protection against pregnancy. According to Planned Parenthood, correct usage of the female condom makes it 95 percent effective. That rate drops to 79 percent effective when it is not used correctly every time.
Spermicide applied to the exterior closed end of the female condom makes it easier to insert and provides additional pregnancy prevention. The smaller ring at the closed end is squeezed to collapse the ring, allowing it to go inside the vagina. The ring should go back into the vagina and reach the cervix. When you let go of the ring and remove your fingers, it opens up to hold the condom in place. The larger ring at the open end stays outside of the vagina with about an inch left outside. Removal of the condom requires a gentle twisting of the out ring to keep the semen from spilling. Pull out the condom and dispose of it.
Condoms for women cost more than male condoms. According to the American Pregnancy Association, female condoms are about five times the cost of male condoms. They are available at most drug stores, making them readily accessible to women who want more control over the birth control.
The female condom can move around or slide inside the vagina during intercourse. Stop and reposition the condom as necessary. Female condoms also tend to make more noises during sexual intercourse, which can be distracting for some couples. While more expensive, female condoms are often less irritating for those with latex allergies.