University Health Service

Female Condom

What is a female condom?

A female condom is a thin protective sheath that is worn in the vagina during sex, or in the rectum for anal sex.  It is made of a thin, strong plastic called nitrile.

How does it work?

A female condom is a barrier that protects against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STI) by preventing the exchange of fluids between partners. The condom has a ring on each end to hold it in place during sex.

How effective is it?

21 out of 100 users will get pregnant each year

What are the benefits?

  • Provides protection from STI
  • Are fairly inexpensive and easy to get -- See Where can I get condoms?
  • A non-hormonal, non-prescription method
  • Can be inserted by a partner as part of sex play
  • Can be inserted up to 6 hours before sex, so does not interrupt sex play
  • Can be used by people who are allergic to latex condoms
  • Safe to use with lubricants
  • Has a looser feel for the insertive partner and may feel more comfortable for individuals with larger penis sizes

What are the downsides?

  • The outer ring may cause irritation due to friction, although some people may find the stimulation pleasurable
  • Some people may feel that condoms reduce sensation. Using lubricant inside and outside the condom can make using the condom more pleasurable.
  • Female condom cost more (about $2-4 each) than male condoms.

How do I use a female condom?

  • Inspect the package to ensure it is in good condition and does not have any holes or tears.
  • Check the expiration date on the side seam of the condom package.
  • Using your fingertips, carefully tear open the package at the perforation, making sure not to tear the condom. Carefully take it out of the wrapper.
  • Add extra lubricant to the outside of the closed end of the condom.
  • Hold the inner ring of the condom between finger and thumb.
  • Squeeze together the two sides of the inner ring and insert it as far as you can into the vagina
  • Leave the outer ring about an inch outside of the vagina.
  • Insert the penis or sex toy through the outer ring and into the condom, not to the side of it.
  • After sex, carefully take penis or toy out of the vagina.
  • Remove the condom. Some users twist the outer ring before removing to close the condom and prevent spillage of fluids. Place the condom in the trash; if desired, you can wrap it in tissue first.
  • Wash hands and genitals to prevent fluids from getting on a partner.
  • For anal sex, use instructions above, or some users prefer to remove the inner ring and place the female condom over the penis or toy prior to insertion. 

Where can I get female condoms and what are costs?

Free female condoms and other safer sex items are available to U-M students at UHS Wolverine Wellness. You can also buy them at certain drug stores and supermarkets. They usually cost around $2-4 each. 

Important tips:

  • Do not use a female condom at the same time as a male condom.
  • Use a new condom each time you have sex.

Personal experiences

I prefer using female condoms to male condoms when I'm getting intimate with my boyfriend, simply because I feel more protected and don't have to worry about a male condom slipping off during sex.

These condoms are excellent for those men with large penises.  My boyfriend has trouble finding condoms that fit, so we use female condoms because they have a superb fit, not tight, not loose, just perfect.

Where can I get more information?

Talk to your health care provider. You can also get reliable information from the following websites: