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Condoms can protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and they can be used to prevent pregnancy
The female condom 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 is a barrier method of birth control.
Female condom use doesn't require a prescription or a visit to a health professional. Condoms are sold in drugstores and family planning clinics.
If used perfectly, the method failure rate for the female condom is 5%, meaning that with perfect use, 5 women out of 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.footnote 1 This is mostly caused by not using the condom every time with intercourse or by not following the directions for use.
The female condom provides some protection of the genital area around the opening to the vagina during intercourse. And it 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 STIs.footnote 2
The female condom can be inserted up to 8 hours before sexual intercourse. It contains lubricant on the inside. It shouldn't be used with a male condom. Use a new condom each time you have intercourse.
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.
The female condom:
If a condom tears, emergency contraception is available as an extra method of birth control.
CitationsTrussell J, Guthrie KA (2011). Choosing a contraceptive: Efficacy, safety, and personal considerations. In RA Hatcher et al., eds., Contraceptive Technology, 20th ed., pp. 45–74. Atlanta: Ardent Media. Minnis AM, Padian NS (2005). Effectiveness of female controlled barrier methods in preventing sexually transmitted infections and HIV: Current evidence and future research directions. Sexually Transmitted Infections, 81(3): 193–200.
Current as of: May 29, 2019
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Sarah A. Marshall, MD - Family MedicineAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineFemi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC, FACOG - Obstetrics and Gynecology, Reproductive EndocrinologyRebecca Sue Uranga, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Current as of: May 29, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Sarah A. Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Femi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC, FACOG - Obstetrics and Gynecology, Reproductive Endocrinology & Rebecca Sue Uranga, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
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