Female condom

The female condom is a birth control (contraceptive) device that acts as a barrier to keep sperm from entering the uterus. It protects against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The female condom is a soft, loosefitting pouch with a ring on each end.

One ring is inserted into the vagina to hold the female condom in place. The ring at the open end of the condom remains outside the vagina. The outer ring helps 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 U.S. The FC1 female condom, which is made of plastic (polyurethane), is no longer being produced. The FC2 female condom is made of synthetic latex and is pre-lubricated with a silicone-based lubricant.


Why it's done Risks How you prepare What you can expect

The female condom helps prevent pregnancy. Among various benefits, the female condom:

  • Is immediately effective
  • Offers protection from sexually transmitted infections
  • Is available without a prescription or special fitting
  • Can be inserted up to eight hours before sex
  • Rarely causes allergic reactions and has minimal risk of side effects
  • Doesn't require a partner's cooperation or an erect penis as the male condom does

Unlike latex — the material used to make most male condoms — female condoms made of polyurethane and synthetic latex aren't 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 isn't appropriate for everyone, however. You may want to consider another type of birth control if you:

  • Are allergic to polyurethane or synthetic latex
  • Are at high risk of pregnancy — you're younger than age 30, you have sex three or more times a week, you've had previous contraceptive failure with vaginal barrier methods, or you're not likely to consistently use the female condom
  • Aren't comfortable with the insertion technique
  • Have vaginal abnormalities that interfere with the fit, placement or retention of the female condom
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