Having sex is risky; that's probably one of the reasons we like it so much; introducing a penis into the vagina can result in pregnancy or an STI or both — that sentence might put you off of sex altogether, but as gloom mongers say, forewarned is forearmed.
There are a host of statistics that tell you what the chances are of getting pregnant from using or not using different methods of contraception or, indeed, catching a nasty dose of infection; we will go through the stats to tell you how effective or ineffective female condoms are and give you some advice via the pros and cons of using an internal condom.
Let's start with the basics…
Table of Contents:
- What’s a Female Condom?
- How Effective are Female Condoms?
- Pros and Cons of Internal Condoms
- The Female Condom’s PR Problem
A female condom is a is a synthetic latex (nitrile) and polyurethane pocket or pouch inserted into the vagina over the entrance to the womb.
The pocket has a plastic ring or rim that sits at the opening of the vagina. This stays outside the vagina at all times, protecting the genital region and blocking sperm from passing into the pelvic cavity. A second ring, sits inside the vagina and covers the cervix (the neck of the womb).
The effectiveness of female condoms really depends on how well you use them. If used correctly, they can reduce your risk of pregnancy by up to 95% (not foolproof, but pretty good), which is ALMOST as effective as male condoms (98%). This means that 5 out of every 100 women who use one for a year will get pregnant. However, the typical use failure rate of a female condom is 79%, meaning 21 out of 100 women using it for a year would become pregnant. When you compare this to the failure rate of Long Acting Reversible contraception (LARC) - which is less than 1% - you can see the female condom is far less effective in preventing pregnancy (source).
In addition, the female condom also protects against sexually transmitted infections or diseases (STIs or STDs) since it covers a large area of the vagina and surrounding genital area.
In reality, many people don't use the female condom correctly, so in real terms, the percentage of pregnancies or STI contraction is over 20% (between 21-22%). Male condoms are not fallible; the failure percentage is slightly less, at under 20% (18-19%).
We said sex was a risky business, but we aren't down on female condoms because they have many benefits, and we will go over these in the pros and cons of internal condoms.
- The biggest pro has to be the built-in stimulator, the ring that fits over the end of the condom and over your vagina — this stimulates the clitoris, producing better, quicker orgasms for most women.
- Women can take control of their sex protection, as no erection is required; these pockets of joy can be in place before the start of play - and up to eight hours before the start of intercourse.
- They are also available to buy here, online with us, so there is no embarrassment when you need them.
- Internal condoms suit people with latex allergies, as most internal condoms are made from latex-free materials.
- There are no side effects (this is true of male condoms as well), and no chemicals or hormones enter the bloodstream.
- Polyurethane female condoms can be used with any type of lubricant.
- They are adaptable for anal sex — the same no-wait policy applies.
- Some customers report that female or internal condoms are noisy during sex (we don't buy that). Either the sex is dull, or you’re doing it in the stationery cupboard.
- Internal condoms can be fiddly and too tricky to insert, but like everything, practice makes perfect. They can split or tear if not inserted or used correctly.
- While the internal condoms can be put in place hours before use, the longer you leave them in, the higher your chance of a yeast infection, UTI, or urinary tract infection.
- Some people don't find the look of internal or female condoms attractive — we say stop looking at the design and get on with the job at hand!
- It's not advisable to use a female and a male condom at the same time, as the increased friction increased the risk of splitting or tearing the female condom.
The problem with the female or internal condom has always been the way it's marketed to us, the buying public. Femidoms, female condoms and internal condoms suffer from lousy PR or no PR.
When released for general consumption in the 90s, the media mocked the female condom (usually male journalists) and lumped them in with activists at Greenham Common and tried to say they were for unattractive feminists and men should stay away.
Back in 1995, some years after the female condom came to market and after the lacklustre review of the product threatened to stop this piece of female empowerment in its tracks. Then one of the manufacturers, Wisconsin Pharmacal, got an official call from the Ministry of Health in Zimbabwe about a petition of over 30K signatures from women who wanted to take control of their lives.
The sad fact is HIV was being passed to women even if they had serious or long-term partners, the female condom meant protection was not reliant on a man using a male condom every time.
At that moment, the female or internal condom symbolised hope and help, not ridicule and comedy.
Roll on 30 years and female condoms are fighting back (or at least the manufacturers are). For instance, So Sexy is a brand made by women for women, and they are, as they say, so sexy.
Ormelle Female Condoms are another example of a great product with fantastic PR. Moreover, they come in an attractive pink-purple foil wrapper that looks more like expensive sweets than an internal condom.
Pasante makes an internal condom for anal sex that doubles up as a female condom — it's about choice, and who doesn't want that? So click the link to buy the pink, and thank us later.