Female condoms also known as “femidoms” work in a similar way to male condoms. They create a barrier preventing the sharing of semen and bodily fluids.
They also offer good protection against most sexually transmitted infections.
The main difference between female and male condoms is that the female condom is inserted into the woman’s vagina rather than in the case of a male condom when the man wears the condom on his penis.
Female condoms are a thin layer of rubber which create a boundary that prevents pregnancy through stopping semen from entering the vagina.
They need to be put inside the vagina before sex. They can only be used once, meaning you need a new condom each time you have sex.
If used correctly, condoms are the only way to protect against both sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy.
They may not be appropriate for a person who is not comfortable touching their own genital area.
The female condom is around 95% effective when used correctly, meaning that around 1 in every 20 women who use condoms as their only contraceptive method became pregnant over a 1 year period.
Condoms have no side effects unless you are sensitive to latex.
If you are sensitive to latex you can try using polyurethane or polyisoprene condoms instead, or find another method of contraception.
Free condoms are available from sexual health clinics, contraceptive clinics, young people’s services and some doctors surgeries.
Find your nearest sexual health clinic
Condoms can be purchased from supermarkets, pharmacies, websites, vending machines in public toilets and some petrol stations.
Always check that your condoms have the BSI kite-mark and the CE mark on the packaging - this means they are of a decent standard and safe to use.
If you are under 16 years old
Contraception services are available and free for people under 16, they are also confidential meaning that they will not inform your parents if you don’t want them to.
- More expensive than male condoms
- Some people find it may interrupt ‘the mood’ when having to pause foreplay to insert a condom
- Not as widely available as male condoms
- They have a use-by date
- They can split if not used correctly
It is possible that the penis may slip down the side of the condom, or the condom be pushed too far into the vagina, if this happens then you may require emergency contraceptive and to get checked for STIs