Contraception guide

How does the female condom work?

The female condom is a type of contraception that stops sperm from meeting an egg. It loosely lines the vagina to form a barrier that stops the sperm getting through. Female condoms can also prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Female condoms are made from a thin plastic called polyurethane.

How effective are female condoms?

If they're used correctly, female condoms are 95% effective. This means that 5 in every 100 women who use female condoms as contraception will get pregnant in a year.

Using a female condom

You must insert a female condom before your partner’s penis touches your vagina or genital area.

You can put a female condom into your vagina up to eight hours before you have sex.

How to use it

  • Take the condom out of the packet, taking care not to tear the condom
  • Place the closed end into your vagina, squeezing the soft inner ring between your finger and thumb.
  • Use your other hand to separate the lips of the vagina (labia) and then push the condom as far up your vagina as possible, making sure that the outer ring stays outside your vagina at all times. 
  • Make sure that your partner’s penis enters your vagina inside the condom, and not between the condom and the wall of your vagina.
  • The outer ring of the condom should be outside your vagina at all times during sex. If the outer ring gets pushed inside your vagina, stop and put it back in the right place.
  • To remove the condom after sex, twist the outer ring to keep the semen inside and gently pull the condom out of your vagina.
  • Wrap it up in tissue and throw it in a bin. Do not flush it down the toilet.

You can put the condom in when you are lying down, squatting or with one leg on a chair. It's worth experimenting with different positions to find the one that suits you best.

Use a new female condom each time you have sex. Check the 'Use by' date on the packet first, to make sure it's in date.

Where can I get female condoms?

Femidom is the only female condom available in the UK.

They are available free from contraception clinics and some sexual health (GUM) clinics. You can also buy them from some pharmacies.

Find out more about female condoms.

Page last reviewed: 05/12/2013

Next review due: 05/12/2015


How helpful is this page?

Average rating

Based on 29 ratings

All ratings

Add your rating


The 1 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Odesa_324 said on 20 April 2013

Although you can put the condom inside your vagina up to eight hours before sex, why would you want to ?

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Talking to your partner about sex

How to talk to a new partner about having sex, including safer sex, and finding the right words