The internal condom, also known as the “female condom,” is a lubricated sheath worn inside the vagina during sex. The internal (female) condom acts as a barrier to sperm and many sexually transmitted infections (STIs) by completely lining the vagina. The internal condom has a ring at each end. The inner ring, at the closed end of the sheath, lies inside the vagina. The outer ring, at the open end of the sheath, lies outside the vagina after the internal condom has been inserted. The internal condom provides protection against pregnancy and some protection against STIs.
The FC2 is a type of internal condoms made of nitrile (a type of synthetic rubber). The FC2 is latex-free, so this is a good option if you or your partner has a latex allergy. The FC2 is pre-lubricated and is the only female condom that has been approved for vaginal sex by the United States Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These condoms have been used by people, for vaginal sex and anal sex. There are other condoms sold outside of the United States that are made of natural rubber latex (Cupid®, l’Amour® and Jeitosa®).
Where can I get the internal (female) condom?
You can get the FC2 internal condom without a prescription in most pharmacies and grocery stores in the United States. You can also buy the FC2 online or ask for it at family planning centers. An FC2 condom costs between $2.00 and $4.00 each however, you can also buy them in multiple packs of three or more.
What if I need more lubrication?
The internal (female) condom is already lubricated when you buy it, but if you need more lubrication, you can use a vaginal lubricant on the inside of the internal condom or on the penis.
How effective is the female (internal) condom?
If an internal (female) condom is used every time for vaginal sex, it’s 95% effective for preventing pregnancy. This means that if 100 people with uteri use the internal condom all the time with vaginal sex and always use it correctly, 5 will become pregnant in a year.
If people with uteri use the internal condom, but not perfectly, it’s 79% effective. This means that if 100 people with uteri use the internal condom with vaginal sex, 21 or more will become pregnant in a year.
The internal condom can be used with other forms of birth control including the pill, patch, implant, and IUD, to further decrease chances of getting pregnant. It is important never to use the internal condom with an external condom as it increases risk of both breaking.
When wearing the internal condom in the vagina, it protects against HIV and other STDs just as effectively as the external (male) condom.
How do you use the internal (female) condom?
The internal (female) condom can be inserted before foreplay and penetration, so you don’t have to stop when you’re ready to have sex.
How to use the internal (female) condom in the vagina:
- Wash your hands and find a comfortable position (try squatting with knees apart or lying down with legs bent and knees apart)
- Hold the internal condom so that the open end is hanging down. You may put lubricant on the outside of the closed side of the condom to help insert it smoothly.
- Squeeze the inner ring with your thumb and middle finger.
- Insert the inner ring and pouch inside the vaginal opening. With your index finger, push the inner ring with the pouch way up into the vagina, so that the inner ring is up past the pubic bone. You can feel your pubic bone by curving your finger towards your front when it is a couple of inches inside the vagina.
- Tip: make sure the internal condom is not twisted.
To use the internal condom for anal sex, you may want to remove the inner ring of the condom before inserting it into the anus with your finger. The outer ring should be left outside of your body. It is OK to leave in the inner ring for insertion.
What if the internal (female) condom slips out of place during intercourse?
Stop intercourse immediately! Take the internal condom out carefully, so that the sperm stay inside the pouch. Add extra lubricant to the opening of the pouch or on the penis and then insert the new internal condom.
If there is concern for pregnancy, consider Emergency Contraception to prevent pregnancy. It is used by people with uteri to prevent pregnancy. If you can’t get in touch with a health care provider, you can text “HELPLINE” to 313131 or check online. If you think you might have been exposed to an STI, speak with your health care provider and get tested.
Can I use a male condom with the internal (female) condom?
No. You should never use an external (male) condom at the same time that you are using an internal condom! This increases the risk that they will break, putting you at risk of pregnancy and STIs.
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