The female condom helps protect partners from pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS. It is the only female-controlled device offering this protection. A female condom is a thin, loose-fitting and flexible plastic tube worn inside the vagina. A soft ring at the closed end of the tube covers the cervix during intercourse and holds it inside the vagina. Another ring at the open end of the tube stays outside the vagina and partly covers the lip area. A female condom provides a barrier between partners to prevent sharing bodily fluids like semen, blood, or saliva. This helps ensure that sexually transmitted infections are not passed and pregnancy does not occur. Female condoms are 79-95% effective.

A female condom and a male condom should not be used at the same time.

The FC / FC2 female condom

The FC female condom has been available in Europe since 1992 and was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1993. It is available in many countries, at least in limited quantities, throughout the world. This female condom carries various brand names in different countries including Reality, Femidom, Dominique, Femy, Myfemy, Protectiv’ and Care.

The FC female condom is a polyurethane sheath or pouch about 17 cm (6.5 inches) in length. At each end there is a flexible ring. At the closed end of the sheath, the flexible ring is inserted into the vagina to hold the female condom in place. At the other open end of the sheath, the ring stays outside the vulva at the entrance to the vagina. This ring acts as a guide during penetration and it also stops the sheath bunching up inside the vagina.

There is silicone-based lubricant on the inside of the condom, but additional lubrication can be used. The condom does not contain spermicide.

How effective is the female condom?

If women use the female condom every time they have sexual intercourse and follow instructions every time, it is 95% effective. This means that if 100 women use the female condom all the time and always use it correctly, 5 women will become pregnant in a year.

Although it’s obvious that the female condom is most effective against pregnancy when it is used all the time and always used correctly, perfect use hardly ever happens. If women use the female condoms, but not perfectly, it is 79% effective. This means that if 100 women use the female condom, 21 or more women will become pregnant in a year.

It has been reported that the male condom is 94% protective against HIV infection (6 out of 100 women will get HIV), but the female condom is pretty new, so it is not clear exactly how effective it is against sexually transmitted diseases.

How do you use the female condom?

Female condoms can be inserted up to 8 hours before intercourse and are only effective when placed prior to intercourse. At first, female condoms can be awkward to use, but they are easy with practice. Take your time and try inserting the condom before sexual play. You can stand with one foot up on a chair, sit with your knees apart, or lie down. Lubrication can help keep the condom in place and lessen noise during intercourse. Adding spermicide before or after insertion can reduce the risk of pregnancy.

The female condom can be inserted well before penetration. Wash your hands first and find a comfortable position, perhaps squatting with knees apart or lying down with legs bent and knees apart. Hold the female condom so that the open end is hanging down. Squeeze the inner ring with your thumb and middle finger.

 

Insert the inner ring and pouch inside of your vaginal opening. With your index finger, push the inner ring with the pouch way up into your vagina, so that the inner ring is up past your pubic bone. You can feel your pubic bone by curving your finger towards your front when it is a couple of inches inside of your vagina. This may take some time, because the female condom is slippery because of the lubrication. Just go slowly and be patient. Make sure the female condom is not twisted at all. The outside ring of the female condom should lie against the outer lips of your vagina. About one inch of it should be outside of your body.

You need to guide the male’s penis into the female condom so that it doesn’t enter the vagina during sex. Once the penis enters your vagina, the vagina will expand and the “slack” will decrease.

To remove the female condom after intercourse, squeeze and twist the outer ring gently to keep the sperm inside the pouch. Pull the female condom out gently and throw it away in a waste container. Don’t flush it. And don’t reuse it!

What are the benefits?

The plastic Female condoms have the advantage of being compatible with oil-based lubricants as they are not made of latex. The external genitals of the wearer and the base of the penis of the inserting partner may be more protected than when the male condom is used, however see studies below. Inserting a female condom does not require male erection.

  • Opportunity for women to share the responsibility for the condoms with their partners
  • A woman may be able to use the female condom if her partner refuses to use the male condom
  • The female condom will protect against most STDs and pregnancy if used correctly
  • The FC or FC2 female condom can be inserted up to 8 hours before intercourse so as not to interfere with the moment
  • The FC and FC2 female condoms are made of polyurethane and nitrile, which are less likely to cause an allergic reaction than latex. These materials can be used with oil-based as well as water-based lubricants. No special storage requirements are needed because polyurethane and nitrile are not affected by changes in temperature and dampness. In addition, these materials are thin and conduct heat well, so sensation is preserved.

Lubrication:

As with all barrier contraceptives, water- and silicone-based lubricants are safe to use with a female condom. Oil damages latex and should not be used with a female condom made of latex. Oils should not directly harm a polyurethane (or nitrile) female condom but may cause other health problems (which could weaken defenses against more serious STDs), or make it more difficult to clean and disinfect (without further weakening it).

Important Tips:

Be careful not to tear condoms with sharp fingernails or jewelry.

  • Use each condom only once.
  • Make sure condoms are available and conveniently located. If there are no condoms handy at the time of a sexual encounter, you may be tempted to have intercourse without one.
  • Do not use a petroleum-based substance such as Vaseline as a lubricant. These substances break down latex.
  • If a condom tears or breaks, if the outer ring is pushed up inside the vagina, or if the condom bunches up inside the vagina during intercourse, remove it and insert another condom immediately.
  • When you remove the condom after intercourse, and you notice that it is torn or broken, some sperm may have spilled inside the vagina, increasing your risk of becoming pregnant. Contact your health care provider or pharmacy for information about emergency contraception.
  • Do not use a female condom and a male condom at the same time. Friction between them can cause them to bunch up or tear.
  • Remove tampons before inserting the condom.

Sources: Young Womens Health , Birth Control

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