University Health Service

Two internal condoms

What is an internal condom?

An internal condom (sometimes referred to as 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?

An internal 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 Safer Sex Supplies
  • 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.
  • Internal condoms cost more (about $2-4 each) than male condoms.

How do I use an internal condom?

  • Check in with your partner to ask for consent. 
  • 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 internal condom over the penis or toy prior to insertion. 

Where can I get internal condoms and what are costs?

Free internal 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 an internal condom at the same time as an external condom.
  • Use a new condom each time you have sex.

Personal experiences

I prefer using female [internal] condoms to male [external] condoms when I'm getting intimate with my boyfriend, simply because I feel more protected and don't have to worry about a male [external] 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 [internal] 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 and watch a video from Planned Parenthood.