Many people are aware of male condoms. In fact, they are the most common form of contraception available. Certified condoms are 98% effective against unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.

However, fewer people are aware of female condoms. These contraceptive devices are almost as effective as male condoms, though they are not as popular or widely available. Today, we’ll be looking at female condoms (or femidoms) in greater detail, providing a comprehensive overview of their effectiveness, history and more.

Read in for more information.

Table of Contents

General Facts About Female Condoms

Female Condom

  • Whereas male condoms are 98% effective, female condoms are 95% effective.
  • They are effective against unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Female condoms are inserted inside the vagina rather than over the penis. They must be inserted before sexual contact.
  • Reliable female condoms will have the Kite or European CE mark on the packaging, ensuring an independent body has tested them.
  • Female condoms may be pushed further inside the vagina during intercourse. However, you can usually sort this out and readjust them without difficulty.
  • Female condoms may be difficult to use for some people, especially women who are uncomfortable touching their genitals.
  • Female condoms can only be used once. After that, you’ll need a new one whenever you want to have sex again.
  • Just like male condoms, female condoms have an expiration date. 1

History of the Female Condom

So, how did the female condom come into existence?

The female condom was supposed to revolutionise the contraception industry. Initially created by Danish inventor Lasse Hessel (who is responsible for numerous medical-related inventions), the patent for the female condom was bought by Wisconsin Pharmacal during the 80s. At the time, the AIDS epidemic was in full flow, as was the female health movement. This should have kickstarted the female condom’s rise in popularity. But, unfortunately, once they were released in the early 90s, they were met with derision.

Many journalists compared these condoms to jellyfish or colostomy bags. In addition, people had trouble working out how to use them - up to 50% of women could not insert them properly, and the condoms made rustling sounds during intercourse. Wisconsin Pharmacal spent six years bringing the original design to the broader public, but no amount of advertisements or public health official excitement could help sell the female condom. In fact, one of the executives of the company said the following about the female condom’s launch:

“We did all the checklist things that you’re supposed to do [...], and we fell flat on our face.”

Why Did the Female Condom Fail Originally?

It is difficult to figure out why the female condom wasn’t more popular during release. Some could argue that the price was too high and significantly more expensive than male condoms. The rustling noise probably played a substantial part as well. In addition, many people were not appropriately educated on female condom usage, which requires a knack for inserting properly.

In an abstract sense, the female condom was a novelty to the public. Male condoms looked like the genitals they covered, and most people could figure out how they worked without too much of an issue. However, female condoms resembled the inside of a woman’s vagina, which was not as understood by the public. Some people may have simply associated the female condom with the women’s health movement and seen it as a feminist fad. Whatever the reason, the female condom did not catch on as well as intended.

When Did the Female Condom Gain Popularity?

Wisconsin Pharmacal had to wait two years for the female condom to achieve some success, receiving correspondence from the Zimbabwean government, who told them that more than 30,000 women had supported a petition to bring the female condom to their country.

Wisconsin Pharmacal quickly changed its direction, operating under the new name, the Female Health Company. They focused on the global public sector, transitioning away from domestic sales. They also went back to the drawing board with the female condom’s design, unveiling the FC2 in 2007. This new design kept the same shape as the original condom but changed materials from polyurethane (which caused the rustling sound) to a cheaper and stronger nitrile. In addition, nitrile is also hypoallergenic - good news for the sensitive skin crowd (nowadays, female condoms are made of polyisoprene or polyurethane). Between 2007 and 2010, the number of FC2s distributed globally doubled.

However, the female condom still took a whole lot to gain a positive reputation. While they could be ordered in bulk, they were still much more expensive than male condoms. In addition, while they became more popular in other countries, they represented less than 2% of condoms sold worldwide. In addition, female condoms were more likely to result in pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections because people still did not know how to use or insert them properly.

Are Female Condoms Popular Nowadays?

Nowadays, there has been continued growth in interest surrounding the female condom. For example, advocacy groups like the National Female Condom Coalition and Universal Access to Female Condoms Joint Programme push for female condoms to become more widely accepted. In addition, entrepreneurs and startups (such as PATH) have been adjusting the female condom design to make it more comfortable and easier to use. Innovations include accordion-folding pouches, dissolvable applicators, and even attached underwear. 2

How Do Female Condoms Work?

Like male condoms, female condoms are a contraceptive barrier that prevents sperm from coming into contact with the vagina or ovaries, preventing pregnancies and certain STDS.

The female condom is inserted into the vagina before sex before any sexual contact has been initiated. It is important that the condom does not touch the vagina before the condom is inserted, as the penis still produces semen before the man has an orgasm (this is sometimes referred to as pre-cum).

When used properly, female and male condoms are the contraceptive that protects against pregnancy and transmitted diseases. However, improper use may increase the chances of both. 1, 3

How Do You Use a Female Condom?

As aforementioned, women need to know how to use female condoms properly to ensure they are completely effective. Follow these steps for greater peace of mind:

  1. Remove the female condom from the packaging; make sure you do not tear the condom when opening the foil, and do not try to open it with your teeth, a knife, or scissors.
  2. Take the smaller ring found at the closed end of the female condom, squeeze it gently, and insert it into the vagina.
  3. Ensure the larger ring (the open end) completely covers the area surrounding your vagina’s opening.
  4. Ensure the man’s penis goes directly inside the female condom. Men sometimes slide between the condom and vagina wall.
  5. Once you have finished having sex, remove the condom straight away. Twist the bigger ring to stop semen from escaping, then gently pull the condom out of your vagina.
  6. Remember to throw away the condom in a bin. Do not flush them down the toilet as they do not dissolve and may clog your plumbing. 1, 3

Can You Use Lubricant with a Female Condom?

Yes, you can use additional lube to help insert the condom inside the vagina. In addition, lubrication may make sex more pleasurable for both people involved. Keep in mind some condoms are pre-lubricated, making them easy to use. 1

Check the packaging to see which lubricants are suitable. We recommend using water-based lubricants. You can find a selection of our lubricants here.

Can All Women Use Female Condoms?

Most women can use female condoms without any issues. In addition, they can be used right after having a baby, abortion, or miscarriage. However, if you have difficulty touching yourself (either through trauma or anxiety), you may not enjoy putting a female condom inside your vagina.

Why a Female Condom May Not Be Right for You

As we have mentioned, female condoms may not be appropriate for everybody. Therefore, you may want to try alternative contraceptive measures if you meet any of the following criteria:

  • You are uncomfortable with the technique or vaginal stimulation. Touching yourself can be a very sensitive issue for some people.
  • You are at a higher risk of pregnancy and have not had success with other condoms in the past. If you are under 30 and have regular sex, you’re more likely to get pregnant, even when using a female condom.
  • If you have abnormalities that get in the way of inserting our female condom correctly.
  • If you are allergic to synthetic latex or polyurethane. These allergies are quite rare but may still affect some women. Rub the condom on your skin and see if you develop a bad reaction. If you don’t, you are free to use female condoms without issues. 1

What Are the Advantages of Female Condoms?

Happy Couple

There are many advantages to using female condoms. These include:

  • Quality protection for both partners from sexually transmitted diseases, such as gonorrhoea, chlamydia, and HIV.
  • When used properly, female condoms can prevent unwanted pregnancies reliably.
  • Female condoms do not cause many severe side effects.
  • They are hypoallergenic and great for sensitive skin or immune systems.
  • This is the only type of contraception you need when having sex. However, you may still want to use other forms of contraception to err on the side of caution, such as the pill, implanted devices, etc.
  • They empower women to take control of their own contraceptive methods and can be inserted well before sex takes place. 1

Are There Any Disadvantages to Using Female Condoms?

While there are numerous benefits, you may find certain drawbacks when using female condoms. These include:

  • Some people find inserting female condoms ruin the mood during sex. You may want to try inserting the condom well in advance or making it part of your foreplay.
  • While female condoms are among the strongest types of condoms, they can still split if used incorrectly.
  • Female condoms are not as available as male condoms. You’re less likely to find them in your local store, and they usually cost more as well. 1

How Can I Check to Make Sure My Female Condom Has Not Broken During Sex?

The best way to check the female condom has remained intact during sex is to run water into it after sex - after you’ve removed it from your vagina, obviously! If water escapes the condom, there is a tear somewhere, and you may want to speak to your local pharmacist or GP about emergency contraception. If the condom does not lose water, you are most likely safe from unwanted pregnancy and can throw the condom away.

Does Anything Make Female Condoms Less Effective

Couple in bed

Yes. There are numerous things that can make female condoms less effective. For instance, sperm could come into contact with the vagina during sex. This can happen if:

  • The penis touches the vagina or surrounding areas before the female condom has been inserted.
  • If the condom is pushed into the vagina.
  • If the penis slides between the vagina wall and condom.
  • If the condom is damaged by jewellery, fingernails, keys, etc.

As aforementioned, if you think sperm has contacted the vagina, speak to your doctor or pharmacist. Emergency contraception works for up to five days after unprotected sex. You may also want to get an STI test at the following clinics:

  • Sexual health or GUM clinic
  • Young people’s clinic
  • Contraception clinic

There are many other reasons why the condom may be less effective. These include:

  • The condom has gone past its sell-by date.
  • You have inserted the condom incorrectly.
  • The condom has been stored incorrectly, such as in a wallet or purse. (Condoms should be stored in room temperature conditions with no friction. Consider keeping your condom in a cupboard drawer or box in your room.) 1

Can You Use Female Condoms if You Are Under 16 Years Old

If you are under 16 years old and sexually active, you can still access free and confidential contraceptive services.

For teens looking for contraceptive advice, their doctor, nurse, or pharmacists will not inform their parents or guardian, provided they completely understand decisions about their own bodies and the information provided by healthcare professionals.

Medical practitioners operate under strict guidelines when providing sexual advice to people under 16 years old.

They may encourage you to speak to your parents about your sexual decisions but will not force you to have that conversation.

The only time your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist may inform somebody about your conversation with them is if they think you are in danger or a victim of abuse. However, in these circumstances, they would probably speak to you first about the severity of your situation. 1

Are Female Condoms and Dental Dams the Same?

No, female condoms and dental dams are separate sexual health items. Female condoms are great for protecting against unwanted pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases during intercourse. Dental dams only protect against STDs during oral sex.

What Is a Dental Dam?

A dental dam is a sheet of polyisoprene or latex designed to go over your vulva or anus, making oral sex safer for both participants. Some people use oral dams for fellatio, but male condoms serve the same purpose and are more readily available.

Dental dams are available in plain or flavoured varieties, much like male condoms. If you want to increase sensation, add a couple of drops of lubricant. 4

Additional Tips for Using Female Condoms

As you may have gathered, female condoms can be difficult to get your head around at first. Check out the following advice to make things easier for yourself.

  • Practice ahead of time: Just like men practice with male condoms, women need to practice with female condoms as well. Refer to the instructions and practice by yourself before having sex with your partner. Use a dildo to simulate how sex should feel while wearing a condom.
  • Apply lube on either side: Female condoms cause increased friction against the vaginal walls, which reduces your body’s natural lubrication. Adding a couple of drops of lube inside and outside the condom will improve the sensation and make intercourse better for you and your partner.
  • Do not reuse old condoms: Don’t clean your condom for future use. These condoms are disposable and need to be thrown in the bin once used.

What Female Condoms Can You Purchase at Condoms.uk?

As previously mentioned, female condoms are not as well-stocked as male condoms in pharmacies and supermarkets. However, you can buy reliable and certified condoms right here at Condoms.uk. Our range of condoms includes:

So Sexy Female Condoms

So Sexy Female Condoms are a reliable alternative to male condoms, allowing women greater peace of mind and control over contraception during sex.

These condoms offer numerous benefits. For one, they are latex-free and made from polyurethane and synthetic nitrile, so they are fantastic for anybody with latex allergies. They are also just as reliable as standard latex condoms. Women can insert them 8 hours before sex, either in the vagina or anus, so they won’t ruin the mood when things get steamy.

In addition, these condoms are very soft, so you’ll still feel plenty of sensation during sex, although a few extra drops of lube will heighten the pleasure even more. That does not mean these condoms are going to tear easily, they are still very strong. In fact, these condoms are stronger than many mole condoms, despite being thin and comfortable.

The condoms are lubricated with non-spermicidal lube and are compatible with both water-based and oil-based lubricants, though we recommend water-based lubricants every time as they are better for your body.

These condoms are available in one size and should accommodate all penis sizes. Each pack contains three condoms.

Why Buy Condoms at Condoms.uk?

There are many reasons why you should buy condoms online at Condoms.uk. These include:

  • Trusted brands: We only sell condoms manufactured by trusted brands. Every condom in our store carries the BSI Kitemark or European CE mark, ensuring they meet necessary safety standards.
  • We stock more than just female condoms: While we do have female condoms available, we also have a huge selection of male condoms, lubricants, and sex accessories as well. Whatever you need for the bedroom, you can find them right here.
  • Discreet delivery: We understand that some people prefer to keep their sex life private. As such, you probably don’t want a big Condoms.uk logo plastered all over your parcel. Rest assured, all our packaging is completely discreet and makes no reference to the contents inside.

Feel free to browse our entire selection of condoms here.

References

  1. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/contraception/female-condoms/
  2. https://www.simplehealth.com/blog/story-of-the-female-condom/
  3. https://www.healthline.com/health/birth-control-female-condom/
  4. https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sex/dental-dam/