Female Condom

What is a female condom?

The female condom is a pouch made of polyurethane or latex that fits inside the vagina. It is a barrier method of birth control.

How does it work?

The female condom has a flexible ring at the closed end of the pouch with a slightly larger ring at the open end. The smaller ring at the closed end keeps the female condom in place, whereas the larger ring rests outside the vagina. The female condom keeps the vagina and cervix from coming in contact with the skin of the penis or with secretions from the penis.

How effective is a female condom?

The typical use of female condoms, which is the average way most people use them, has a failure rate of 21%. This means that 21 people out of every 100 will become pregnant during the first year of use. You may increase effectiveness by adding a Spermicidal foam, jelly, or cream in conjunction with the condom. You should take a pregnancy test if you are experiencing any pregnancy symptoms.

What are the side effects or health risks of female condoms?

Female condoms do not have any side effects except to individuals who are allergic to latex.

Is a female condom reversible?

Yes. The female condom does not have any effects on either the male or the female reproductive function. It is possible to get pregnant immediately if condoms are no longer used.

How much does a female condom cost?

The cost of female condoms is higher than male condoms and both types are only used once. The cost ranges from as little as $2.50 to $5.00 each.

What about female condoms and sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s)?

A condom is the only means of birth control that provides a significant reduction in the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases. Condoms are not “Safe Sex,” but rather “Safer Sex.” Condoms help prevent the transmission of STD’s by reducing the likelihood of partner exposure through genital contact or fluid secretions.

The female condom has not been studied near as much as the male condom counterpart, but it provides similar properties.

Information about male condoms: According to the workshop summary, “Scientific Evidence on Condom Effectiveness for Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Prevention,” July 2001, The National Institute of Health and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases report:

  • Condoms provide no reduction in the transmission of the human papilloma virus (HPV) and Trichomonas vaginalis.
  • Syphilis transmission is reduced 29% for typical use. It is reduced 50 to 71% when condoms are used correctly 100% of the time.
  • Gonorrhea and Chlamydia transmission is reduced by approximately 50% even when condoms are used 100% of the time.
  • Genital herpes transmission is reduced by approximately 40%
  • HIV transmission is reduced by approximately 85% when condoms are used correctly 100% of the time.

What are the pros & cons for female condoms?

  • The Pros of Female Condoms include:
    • Along with male condoms, it is the only form of birth control that has a significant reduction in the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases
    • It keeps the control of contraceptive use in your hands
    • You do not need a prescription
    • Compared to the male condom it is less likely to cause an allergic reaction, and it is less likely to break
    • Condoms are small, easy to carry, and disposable
  • The Cons of Female Condoms include:
    • More expensive than male condoms (approximately 5 times)
    • The outer ring may be considered cumbersome
    • Typical use has a higher failure rate of approximately 21%
    • It may be a distraction during intercourse because of crackling or popping noises
Last Updated: 09/2005